By Daniel Sutphin, Staff Writer, The Daily Sun, June 29, 2022.
PORT CHARLOTTE — Charlotte County commissioners are moving forward with a decision that could potentially double impact fees for local residents.
Public hearings will be held before anything becomes official, but a full increase to each of the six fee categories will double the impact fee cost for a single-family home.
Fee categories consist of transportation, libraries, parks, fire stations, public buildings and law enforcement.
Currently, collection rates for the majority of the categories list at 0%, except transportation at 90%.
Commissioners approved the 90% rate in December, increasing the cost for single-family homes to $5,660, up 28% from $4,409.
If all six categories were raised to 100%, that could bring the current $5,660 fees to just under $10,000, according to county documents.
Impact fees raise millions of dollars for capital projects like roads, libraries, parks and fire stations.
State law restricts local governments from making large impact fee increases unless “extraordinary circumstances” are declared.
Commissioners have been considering raising impact fees for months based on factors like population increase, escalating construction costs, and infrastructure needs resulting from growth.
“I was concerned last time because the number seemed off,” Commissioner Ken Doherty said. “The number seemed to be off (because) all my studying for everything … in my opinion concluded, Duncan & Associates was reasonably accurate.”
The county’s attempt at declaring “extraordinary circumstances” was based on a study from before the U.S. Census announced the 2020 population for Charlotte County.
For 2020, the Census reported 186,847 people in the county. In 2010, the bureau reported only 159,978.
Because the 2020 Census was not available, the consultant, Duncan & Associates, made future estimates based on a variety of impact fee categories.
“For the year 2020,” Doherty said. “Those trends in population and inflation, and all that would have had a reasonable shelf life … before something bizarre happened. The bizarre (COVID-19) happened.”
He added that the Duncan & Associates projections were similar to the most recent data from the census bureau.
All five commissioners agreed to move forward with considering the jump in impact fees.
Doherty went on to say that the county should conduct a new study.
“We need a new study,” he said. “The timing of that is important. If we’re not already in a recession, we’re within two years of a recession. The severity is that we don’t know. Everything we read and hear about is pointing to that.”
Public hearings must be held before anything becomes official. The dates of those hearings have yet to be determined.
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