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Business Observer Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020 2 weeks ago

Bill aims to lessen blow of impact fees

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Some legislators aim to curb what they see as abuse of impact fees.

Builders and developers across the region have long complained about the chokehold they say impact fees put on them for new projects.

Now they have some strong allies in Tallahassee for their fight to curb impact fees. The latest is the House Ways & Means Committee, which, by a 12-2 vote, recently advanced a bill that would block increased impact fees from being levied on pending building permits. The bill, sponsored by State Rep. Nick DiCeglie, R-Largo, would also require each local government to create an impact fee review board and streamline approval processes.

The bill, DiCeglie says in a report in The Center Square, a Tallahassee news service, addresses what builders and contractors have maintained for years — that local governments “have not used these fees as intended. This is a lot of money for these folks.”

Cities, counties and special districts assess impact fees to finance infrastructure improvements for water and sewer, roads, schools and parks to accommodate population growth spurred by new development. Many of those fees are passed on to consumers, in an increased price of the home or rental rates.

Previously cleared by the House Local, Federal & Veterans Affairs Subcommittee, DiCeglie’s bill is slated for a State Affairs Committee hearing before it goes to the House floor, The Center Square reports. State Sen. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota, filed a companion bill in the Senate.

DiCeglie’s bill would require local governments to segregate impact fee revenue into accounts for each improvement category, calculate impact fees with data no older than 36 months, create seven-member committees to review how fees are allocated and exclude costs from fees that don’t meet a revised definition of infrastructure. DiCeglie also says the bill will prevent builders stuck in permitting and review delays from being assessed new or increased impact fees not factored into anticipated costs when they first submitted proposed projects.

“Say, for example, impact fees are $15,000,” DiCeglie says in The Center Square report. “We want to make sure that fee stays that fee, and you can’t come back and say the fees are now $25,000.”

The Florida Home Builders Association, Associated Builders and Contractors of Florida, Highland Homes and MI Homes of Tampa are among the bill’s supporters. Several cities and counties and the Florida League of Cities oppose the measure.

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