For the first time in 20 years, the Hillsborough county commission has voted to raise new home construction impact fees, in an effort to help support the over-populated and indebted county public schools. With a rapidly expanding school age population and a need for money to build new schools, pressure had increase over the past year on anti-tax county commissioners to raise fees, which would go towards construction of new schools. The Hillsborough county commission voted last month to approve the increase in impact fees, but the issue had to come back for a vote a month later. The current impact fee is only 196 dollars for a new home. The deal struck would raise the fees by $4,000 on a house between 2,000 and 2,500 square feet half in November and half in august of 2007.

Tim Porter, an attorney representing the school board, told the commission that the board had met with the builders association and they had agreed on the proposal and the implementation of the impact fee. Fredrick McClure from the chamber of commerce said the chamber is supportive as well. ACT

“3:15 “This will have an impact economically. I moved..you have to step to the front. recognize the agreement..�

The impact fee is expected to generate $40 million to $46 million annually when fully implemented; the school district is at least 200 million dollars short on money needed to build new schools over the past 5 years. Susan Edgerly, the mother of a 15 year old daughter, was one of several parents who spoke in support of raising the fee.

ACT “education is important..its one not the other..�

Several county commissioners had expressed concerns that the higher fee would make it harder for people to buy a new home, since the builder may pass on the cost to the buyer. Teresa Anderson said she was skeptical that those few thousand dollars was whats is standing between people and a new home.

ACT-12:07 “you are talking about a slow down, well no one thinks anything is wrong with that.

Plant city resident Barbara Hammock pleased with the commission to raise the fee immediately.

ACT-19:00 “I am a banker…please, please, please approve this..its about the economy..�

Joseph Narkowitz with the Tampa bay builders association spoke in favor of the impact fee increase as well. In fact, not one member of the public spoke in opposition of the raise in impact fees. All the same, commissioner Brian Blair, who has been a staunch opponent of an impact fee raise, and a critic of how the school district handles its finances, attempted to put off the temporary raise later this year, and instead called for the full raise in August of 2007.

ACT-Blair “The schools didn’t manage well..so I want 2007..�

Blair’s motion was seconded by Commissioner Jim Norman. But commissioner Mark Sharpe made a substitute motion, in line with the agreement reached by the school board and the builders.

Sharpe 33:40 “the compromise is well worked out..I appreciate the comments by Blair…but I say we go forward with motion..�

Sharpes motion was seconded by commissioner Kathy Castor, but commissioner Jim Norman, who has been out sick for many of the debates on the issue over the past few months, said putting off the impact fee raise makes more financial sense.

ACT-Norman 36:30 “they had a debt and then came back and it was half…you cant spend all that money in this window of 1 year, they have gotten it in one year..if the legislature steps up and has (ENDS AT 40:00—listen)

Commissioner Tom Scott asked Hillsborough county schools superintendent Mark Ellen Elia how much the school district needed over the next 5 years. Elia said the district was short at least 150 million dollars, but is also in debt for more than that, and even if the ordinance was passed today, would not be getting the full amount for at least 20 years.

ACT-Elia 47:00 “we anticipate between 30 and 40 million annually..the document gets changed…at this point in time..SCHOOLS WIL NOT BE BUILT AND YOU WILL BE DEEPER IN THE HOLE..�

Commissioner Tom Scott, who is widely perceived as the swing vote on the issue, was convinced by the notion that if the fee raise was delayed, the schools would get more and more overcrowded. Commissioner Brian Blair then used a procedure under Roberts rules of order to leapfrog commissioner mark sharpes proposal. Blair changed the date of when he thought the 4,000 impact fee should of into effect, to a precise date of the first week in August of 2007.

ACT-Scott PART 2--3:30 “let me get this straight..this motion is for august 2007 which means it may never happen..sharpes as well..�

Commissioner Ronda Storms, who has been opposed to the impact fee raise because she doesn’t feel the school district manages its money well, said she was willing to support Blair’s fee increase, but she had a warning for the school district that they were making a mistake by reaching a deal with the builders.

ACT-Storms 1:06:30 “people on the side of the builders should ask why..its because they know its cheaper than concurrency..paying 4,000 is cheaper than paying for the improvement..mark this down, they will get the offset, you’re gonna get less than with pure concurrency�

Blair, Storms and Norman voted for Blair’s motion but were defeated 4 to 3. Sharpe motion then passed 4 to 3. The Hillsborough county school board still has to approve the plan later in the evening, but they are expected to do so.

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