By Matt Dixon
12/05/2017 07:19 PM EDT
TALLAHASSEE — A Senate panel drastically amended a proposal Tuesday that dictates when and for what purpose local governments can collect impact fees, tens of millions of dollars of which are paid each year by developers.
Impact fees are collected by local counties, cities or school boards when a developer proposes a major new project. The money is used to make upgrades to roads and other infrastructure to accommodate new development. In 2015, counties and cities collected nearly $730 million in impact fees.
The bill, FL SB324 (18R), looks to dictate in state law when developers must pay those impact fees and how they must be spent.
The early fight to shape the legislation are between groups that represent local governments and those who represent development groups, such as the Florida Homebuilders Association.
Kari Hebrank, a lobbyist with the Florida Home Builders Association, told members of the Senate Community Affairs Committee that the legislation is a priority for her organization. She argued that developers sometimes must pay impact fees too early, which sometimes leads to them ponying up for developments that never come to fruition.
“Some communities around the state start collecting at platting,” she told the committee. “As you know, platted developments might never come on board.”
The bill, sponsored by state Sen. Dana Young, (R-Tampa), originally set the date at the time a certificate of occupancy is issued, which is late in the process and favored by developers. One of a series of amendments added to the bill was changing that date to when a building permit is issued, which was sought by groups like the Florida League of Cities to give local governments more time to collect the fees and build infrastructure.
Beyond timing, the proposal puts in state law several court decisions that have outlined the characteristics of an impact fee to be legal, including that it is a proportionate share of the cost of public facilities needed to serve new development; a one-time charge; and that the fee is earmarked for capital outlay and not expended for operating costs, among other things.
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