Lee commissioners to discuss temporary impact fee moratorium

Lee County Commissioner John Manning

Lee County

Lee County Commissioner John Manning

Lee County Commissioner Frank Mann on NewsMakers 10-30-11

Lee County Commissioner Frank Mann on NewsMakers 10-30-11

Where: Old Lee County Courthouse, 2115 Second St., Fort Myers

When: Monday, Jan. 14; 1:30 p.m.

Building in Lee County could become a lot cheaper — at least temporarily.

During their management and planning meeting Monday, Lee County Commissioners are expected to discuss a 2-year moratorium on impact fees.

The proposal, spearheaded by Commissioner John Manning, is intended to spur new growth. Impact fees are imposed on new construction and used for new development in schools, roads, parks and emergency services.

"The reason I'm asking for it now is to see if it'll give extra momentum to the upward movement in the housing markets," Manning said.

Manning has tried requesting a moratorium before, but it has always failed to rally a majority vote.

"Impact fees are the way we make people pay for growth. The people moving here require additional roads, schools," Commissioner Frank Mann said. "If you take away impact fees we will have no way to pay for the stress of growth on Lee County."

Eliminating impact fees will increase construction in the area, thereby bringing in more money for the county, Manning said. He added that the fees cannot be used for operations and management. For example, if the fees are put toward building a new road, other county money would fund the maintenance.

"People think it's growth paying for growth, but there are problems with impact fees," Manning said.

The Lee Building Industry Association, a nonprofit that represents Lee, Hendry and Glades counties, acts as a voice for the local construction industry. They have also been pushing for impact fees to be reduced or eliminated.

"An additional $13,000 (for example) on top of the price of a home, with the financial market being what it is now, is the difference between an individual being able to get financing or not," said Heather Mazurkiewicz, the association's executive vice president.

Impact fee revenues for the last two years totaled $13.1 million, according to county staff documents. If the moratorium is put in effect, county staff project the loss in revenue would be $10.4 million over two years. They project it will impact bike paths and pedestrian walkways since 5 percent of the road impact fees are allocated for those projects.

Also, the suspension of impact fees would delay the repayment of several inter-fund loans — loans the county lends itself — on roads and parks projects, according to county staff documents. Currently the county has a general fund revolving loan program with a total of $38 million owed for road projects, with $4.1 million scheduled for repayment in the next two years. Parks has a $15 million loan with $300,000 scheduled for repayment in the next two years.

That's part of the reason why Mann said he can't support the moratorium.

"Not in my lifetime, never. It's a serious mistake," Mann said. "I'm looking forward to the discussion, but I think it will have a serious negative impact."

Based on Monday's discussion, the commission could bring the issue up at their Tuesday meeting and vote if the discussion should continue or once again fall to the wayside.

© 2013 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Comments » 0

Be the first to post a comment!

Share your thoughts

Comments are the sole responsibility of the person posting them. You agree not to post comments that are off topic, defamatory, obscene, abusive, threatening or an invasion of privacy. Violators may be banned. Click here for our full user agreement.

Comments can be shared on Facebook and Yahoo!. Add both options by connecting your profiles.

Features