To the editor:
The League of Women Voters of Lee County, Florida is extremely concerned about the current consideration by the Lee County Commissioners to implement a moratorium on impact fees. After much research and discussions with elected officials, we have the following questions to the Lee County Commissioners and the public.
What are impact fees? As stated in the Lee County Southwest Florida Community Development website: "Impact Fees ensure that new development bears a proportionate share of the cost of capital expenditures necessary to provide specific services in Lee County. Impact fees are assessed for new development and changes of occupancy. They are assessed either at time of building permit issuance, move-in permits for mobile homes, or development order issuance for recreational vehicle parks."
Impact fees have existed since 1985. A suspension of these impact fees would affect the following:
(Following information was obtained from the January 14, 2013 Management and Planning Meeting Item #7 Proposed Impact Fee Suspension)
Lost Revenue: Projected lost revenue for the next two years is $10.4 million. Who pays to cover the projected lost revenue? Taxpayers?
Capital Improvements Program: Projects budgeted in the Capital Improvement Program may be delayed, funded from another source, or removed entirely. Who pays for the CIP projects? Taxpayers?
Internal Loan Repayments: $38 million owed for road projects, but $4.1 million is scheduled for repayment during the next two year. Who pays for the Loan Repayments? Taxpayers?
Outstanding Impact Fee Credits: Impact fee credits are issued by the local government as compensation for the donation of right of way, land or construction capital improvements. These credits: are then used to pay impact fees for development. Impact fee credits of all types are brought and sold by the private sector. Who will compensate Lee County? Taxpayers?
Developer Contributions: Developers often contribute land or make improvements to infrastructure in the course of developing a project that exceeds the site-related impacts of the project. The County occasionally compensates developers for these contributions with cash, but often issues impact fee credits in lieu of cash. Who will compensate the developer? Taxpayers?
Outstanding Obligations: The County has $15 million in outstanding credits for roads. There is $63,000 in outstanding credits for Fire. The School Board has $2.4 million in outstanding credits. Who pays for the outstanding credits? Taxpayers?
The League of Women Voters of Lee County Florida urge the Lee County Commissioners to address these issues and seek solutions which do not require the taxpayers, who are already under financial stress, to subsidize development.
Clara Anne Graham, President
League of Women Voters
of Lee County, Florida