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Sarasota Thursday, Nov. 10, 2011 5 years ago

FULL STORY: City mulls suspending impact fees for parks

by: Kurt Schultheis Senior Editor

Sarasota City Commissioner Shannon Snyder is making his case for why he believes the majority of the impact fees Sarasota County levied on city taxpayers should be axed.

At its Monday regular meeting, the Sarasota City Commission discussed what Snyder perceives as unnecessary park impact fees.

Snyder said that the city pays for a level of service for its parks with which Sarasota County can’t compete.
“The county no longer funds our park facilities because our level of service in those parks is so high,” Snyder said.

Snyder said the city needs to ask the county to eliminate the park impact fees.

City attorney Bob Fournier told the commissioners Snyder’s proposal “might have some merit” because the city is essentially built out. He suggested the city ask for an indefinite suspension of the park impact fees.

In the meantime, Snyder and the commission directed city staff to create a report that details the number of parks and the amount the city has spent on its parks.

“Our level of service is well above what they are willing to pay for,” Snyder said. “What growth we have over the next 30 years will be more beneficial in sales taxes than the amount of (park) impact fee dollars we will get back from the county.”

City Manager Bob Bartolotta suggested the commission discuss the issue with the Sarasota County Commission when both boards meet Nov. 22.

“I support a dialogue with the county to ask them if they would stop collecting these fees,” said Vice Mayor Terry Turner.

In August, 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 over which the city has complete control.

But commissioners are considering suspending other impact fees in the future. The move would make the city more pro-development.

Snyder said in July it seems counterproductive for the county to collect park impact fees, only for the county to give that money back to the city to manage city parks.

Clarke Davis, Sarasota County general manager of Public Works and Planning, said in September 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.

Davis said if the commission decides to terminate impact fees, it would be the first municipality in the county to request such an action.

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.

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