A week ago, Sarasota city commissioners agreed to suspend sewer and water impact fees for 10 years. In part, the city agreed to suspend the fees because they are the only two fees of which the city has complete control.
But commissioners might consider suspending other impact fees in the future. The move would make the city more pro-development.
At an informal City Commission meeting July 26, Commissioner Shannon Snyder suggested the city needs to take aim at other county impact fees from which the city isn’t seeing any direct benefit.
Snyder suggested the city start by eliminating park impact fees.
“We are currently collecting park impact fees for the county when we have our own parks,” Snyder said. “That money should be allocated back to us so we can use it on our own park issues.”
Snyder told commissioners and those in attendance that because the city is virtually built out, there’s no need for the county to collect many of its impact fees from city residents.
“When you start looking at governmental impact fees and the amount of money we are raising for Sarasota County, we have to start asking ourselves how that really impacts the city,” Snyder said. “I’m having a hard time understanding why these fees need to be collected for things that don’t impact us.”
Snyder explained the city hasn’t had any major growth since 1987.
“For the amount of money we are raising for Sarasota County, where is our impact?” Snyder asked.
Clarke Davis, Sarasota County general manager of Public Works and Planning, told the Sarasota Observer the City Commission has the right, according to interlocal agreements crafted with each impact fee, to request the termination of county impact fees.
The Sarasota County Commission would then hold a public hearing 30 days after the city requests an impact-fee termination, to hear the city’s evidence on why the impact fee should terminated.
But whether the county agrees with the city’s termination request doesn’t matter.
“Once the county makes its recommendation to the city, at the end of the day it’s up to the city to decide whether it wants to terminate the fee,” Davis said.
Davis said if the commission decides to terminate impact fees, they would be the first municipality in the county to request such an action.
City Manager Bob Bartolotta suggested the city review impact fees one at a time beginning this fall at commission meetings. City staff will provide an analysis of each impact fee and give a recommendation to the commission about whether it believes that impact fee is necessary.
Commissioners agreed with Bartolotta’s recommendation and believe an analysis of all the fees is necessary.
Snyder was glad to hear it.
“At what point do we no longer have to pay for the growth of the county?” Snyder asked. “I have a problem paying for something we’re not getting. Some of these impact fees are flat out not good for our city.”
WHAT ARE IMPACT FEES?
Impact fees are charges assessed against newly developed property to recover the cost incurred by a local government in providing the community with public facilities.
IMPACT FEE SCRUTINY
The city of Sarasota has complete control over city sewer and water impact fees, which it agreed to suspend last month for 10 years.
This fall, commissioners will examine closely the following Sarasota County impact fees to see how necessary they are for city residents:
• Road impact fees
• Park impact fees
• Library impact fees
• Fire/Rescue impact fees
• EMS impact fees
• Justice impact fees
• General government impact fees
• Education impact fees (currently suspended through Dec. 2012)