Impact fees closer to finally increasing in Hillsborough County by Mitch E. Perry

07/19/06

Hillsborough County Commissioners are now one step away from raising impact fees for the first time in 19 years.

The Board is now poised to vote next Tuesday on raising impact fees from their current $196 fee to nearly $4,000 over the next 2 years.

The vote to move the issue forward passed 6-1 , with only Ronda Storms opposing.

But it was Commissioner Brian Blair who objected the most. Although always skeptical about raising the fees, Blair used last month’s announcement that the Hillsborough County School district $420 million dollar shortfall has now been cut down to $198 million as a reason to argue AGAINST raising the impact fee to its ultimate (roll tape#1 o.q.�trying to attract�)

During the public comment portion of the meeting, County Commission candidate Joe Redner blasted Blair and and one of his financial supporters, concrete manufacture Ralph Hughes (roll tape#2 o.q.�who pulls the strings�)

At issue after the last County Commission meeting was whether the impact fee would be raised based on the number of bedrooms in a home, or the square footage of the home. Commissioners recommended that the School District and members from the Builders Association sit down and try to come up with a compromise.

Jim Porter represents the School Board. (roll tape#3 o.q.�would pay a lot more�)

Porters also said the implementation rate for impact fees should be expedited. Originally the proposal would begin in 08…but now they want the fee to begin at $2,000 starting this November, and the $4,000 go into effect in July of next year (roll tape#4 o.q.�of the builders�)

County Commissioner Tom Scott- who has been shown to be the swing vote in this decision, asked Hillsborough’s Chief Facilities Officer – asked how soon the the District needed the money.

Hillsborough School System’s Chief facilities officer Cathy Valdez said, “right now� (roll tape#5 o.q.�to our short fall�)

So again, the final vote on seeing these impact fees raised will take place next Tuesday at 2PM….Even with County Commissioner Jim Norman back on the Board, it appears that those in favor of raising the fees will have a majority in order to do so.

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