Sarasota News Leader

01/17/2014

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BARGAIN FEVER Road impact fees should stay low, the majority of the County Commission agreed this week. Photo by Christopher Sessums, via Flickr THE COUNTY COMMISSION MOVES TO MAKE DISCOUNTED ROAD IMPACT FEES PERMANENT By Cooper Levey-Baker Associate Editor The Sarasota County Commission this week took steps to permanently lock in steeply discounted road impact fee rates, originally reduced in 2011 to provide a short-term shot in the arm to the then-floundering construction industry. In 2007, the commission voted to reduce impact fees — which are billed to developers to cover the increased demand that new construction places on public roads — to 68 percent of the full rate established one year earlier. In 2011, the board cut them even further, to 50 percent of that diminished rate. Last January, the commissioners moved to maintain those rates for another two years, a plan supported by the Gulf Coast Builders Exchange, an influential trade group for local construction interests. Then, last summer, the commission indicated to staff it wanted to see those low numbers become permanent. That history was laid out for the commission Tuesday, Jan. 14, by Interim County Transportation Director Jonathan Paul, who asked the board to allow staff to advertise proposed changes to the road impact fee ordinance. His presentation included a spreadsheet with examples of impact fees for various types of construction. For a new 1,500-square-foot home, for example, the full 2007 fee was $7,623; the reduced 2007 rate was $5,171. The 2011 changes then cut that number to $2,585. That figure, if eventually locked in, will shift only with inflation, as determined by the Florida Department of Transportation.

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