Santa Rosa County takes up $8,000 impact fees again in 2021, could slash them in half
Instead of having up to $8,000 in impact fees split proportionately between roads, schools, parks and law enforcement, Santa Rosa County could end up settling on a much smaller dollar amount that would be shared with the school board and divided up evenly among various county departments.
The suggestion was brought up by District 2 Commissioner Bob Cole at Tuesday morning's workshop, the first time impact fees were discussed as a whole by the new board. The board reviewed an ordinance, drafted in August 2020 based on a study completed in July 2020, and bounced around different ideas for how to implement impact fees county-wide.
Possible impact fees:With new proposed impact fee, Santa Rosa homebuyers could face $8,000 in total fees
Educational impact fees passed:Santa Rosa County passes education impact fees to fund building of new schools
The ultimate goal of the impact fees is to help bring the county's infrastructure up to par with the pace-setting homebuilding that has been ongoing for several years. The July 2020 study found that the county could implement up to three impact fees — one for roads, one for parks and one for law enforcement — that could be layered on top of each other depending on the type of building being constructed.
If implemented along with educational impact fees, the fees could total more than $8,000 for a new, single-family home.
Commissioners approved educational impact fees in January 2020 to go toward building new schools and would be collected by the county but used by the school district. But the fee was challenged in court by the Home Builders Association of West Florida in April, and a judge ruled in July that the county must stop collecting the educational impact fees until the court can settle the matter.
The judge ruled in November that it will be up to the First District Court of Appeals to make a final ruling on the matter. That court has yet to make a ruling.
Cole said Tuesday that in discussions with the school district, he understood they might be able to negotiate with the Home Builders Association of West Florida instead of having the matter settled by a judge. Cole suggested doing something similar with the road, parks and law enforcement fees.
“I’d like to see us work, not just them work together but us work collectively with the HBA and the school board, and find a reasonable number that all three could live with and get this on track. … We could solidify $3,000 or $4,000 and split it evenly with the school,” he said. “That certainly doesn’t have to be the number, but to me that would be more reasonable than a tally of $8,000 or $9,000.”
Below are the proposed fees:
- Single-family detached: $3,004 total ($2,114 roads, $499 parks, $391 law enforcement)
- Multi-family, low-rise (1-2 stories): $2,260 total ($1,640 roads, $384 parks, $236 law enforcement)
- Multi-family, mid-rise (3-10 stories): $1,837 total ($1,217 roads, $384 parks, $236 law enforcement)
- Mobile home/RV park: $1,920 total ($1,120 roads, $474 parks, $326 law enforcement)
- Retail/commercial per 1,000 square feet: $3,338 total ($2,908 roads, $430 law enforcement)
- Office per 1,000 square feet: $2,491 total ($2,282 roads, $209 law enforcement)
- Industrial per 1,000 square feet: $1,156 total ($1,056 roads, $100 law enforcement)
- Warehouse per 1,000 square feet: $517 total ($471 roads, $46 law enforcement)
- Mini-warehouse per 1,000 square feet: $417 total ($407 roads, $10 law enforcement)
- Public/institutional per 1,000 square feet: $1,119 total ($1,000 roads, $119 law enforcement)
Story continues below document.
Clancy Mullens, vice president of Duncan Associates, which the county hired for $60,000 last year to conduct the impact fee analysis, said that despite prior legal advice the county had received, impact fees can be used to improve existing infrastructure caused by developments — for example, expanding Woodbine Road.
“Logically, it’s not practical to constantly be building brand new roadways, and so taking the existing infrastructure that we have then maximizing the use of that existing infrastructure is really what the intent of the impact fee is,” Mullens said.
Mullens said the county can choose to implement the fees at 100% right off the bat or phase in the fees by starting at less than 100% and gradually moving upward. The fees also could be adjusted annually based on a cost of inflation index.
“The fees are designed to cover the costs to maintain the existing level of service, which are calculated and comply with Florida statutes and case law,” he said. “It’s not a broad-based tax that covers all development or all properties; it’s only new developments. It cannot be spent on any other types of capital facilities. So, if you have a road impact fee, it has to go to road improvements that expand capacity.”
The impact fees will be paid at the time the building permit is issued.
The impact fees won't be enforced in the incorporated cities of Milton, Jay and Gulf Breeze unless the cities enter into an interlocal agreement with the county.
If ultimately approved, the impact fees could generate about $4 million a year to pay for roads, as well as $900,000 yearly to pay for parks and $800,000 yearly for law enforcement, specifically new officers. It would be the first time the county collects impact fees for its own revenue streams since first adopting impact fees in 2005 and then suspending them in 2009.
The board will revisit the impact fee issue at a February board meeting.
Annie Blanks can be reached at email@example.com or 850-435-8632.