Commissioners need to take hard look at cutting impact fees

On Tuesday, the Hernando County Commission will consider renewing the current impact fee ordinance that reduced fees to 2001 levels. At last Tuesday’s meeting at least two commissioners put forth the idea of lowering them further — perhaps to zero

There certainly has not been any formidable increase in the home building or commercial construction area. Typically, after every business downtown, it has been the construction industry and new home purchases that led the country out of the bad times.

Unfortunately, that is not happening right now and anything the local government can do to promote economic activity is worth looking at. This meeting will be a workshop where the various proposals relative to impact fees will be discussed. It is a given that the lowering of impact fees, especially in the commercial area, can be the difference in a commercial start. That was attested to by several individuals representing the construction industry.

Currently, of the 67 Florida counties, 86 percent have no impact fee or have reduced fees. Most recently, Marion County, a not-too-distant neighbor, saw fit to bring its impact fees down to zero. Leon County, which encompasses Tallahassee, our state capitol, has no impact fees.

We hope there will be a discussion that is grounded in factual information and not emotional issues. With one of the highest unemployment rates in the state, Hernando County has to take some proactive action to get our people back to work.

No one can foretell the future but that does not mean we cannot try actions that have worked in the past. Most of our home building has been done as infill, which means that there is sufficient infrastructure in place to support the building activity.

The workshop should provide the opportunity for all the salient information to be explored before a public hearing slated for Nov. 15 takes place.

We support leaving residential impact fees at 2005 levels. A slight reduction may be OK, but not all the way to zero.

Commercial is a different story. We need jobs now, and the best way to make our county appealing to businesses that hire employees is to reduce costs like impact fees. The county would be wise to reduce commercial impact fees significantly if we want more jobs here in Hernando County. We must be competitive with other counties.

Increasing impact fees will be much easier than implementing a new impact fee later when the economy improves and people are back to work.

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