110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
By Pat Andrews
posted Jul 25, 2011 - 9:25:23am
When County Public Works Director George Recktenwald made a presentation on the 2012 road program to the Volusia County Council during their July 21 meeting, he said his department is cut to the bone. Things may get worse, after decisions the County Council
made after Recktenwald’s presentation. They are planning to institute a two-year moratorium on transportation fees that help fund his department’s work.
Recktenwald told the council that more than 100 positions have been eliminated. Roadsides are being mowed only when the grass is so high it’s about to cover stop signs.
With declining gas purchases, gas taxes are down. Revenue from transportation-impact fees is down due to fewer construction starts.
Right now, the county is staring at $170 million in unfunded projects needed today to keep roads in shape, with no relief in sight.
Transportation impact fees of $2,174 for a single-family home help build and maintain roads, to help pay for population growth. That figure has held since 2003, despite a 2007 recommendation to raise them to $7,201.
Total county impact fees for single-family homes run $9,108.05, including fees for parks and fire services. Impact fees for schools are the biggest part of the package, at $6,065.94. Builders pay the fees at closing, when the home is sold, not upfront.
Recktenwald pointed to a 2010 study that indicates impact-fee suspension does not spur single-family construction.
Builders in the audience saw it differently, however, and it was their voice the County Council heeded.
Volusia Building Industry Association President Mark Bines and the others who spoke, including new Volusia County Association for Responsible Development President Mark Watts, David Haas of ICI, and developer Steve Costas of Charles Wayne Properties, said the money will go to the home purchaser to stir sales.
And, Bines said, for every house that’s built, three new jobs are created. He asked for a minimum two-year moratorium on impact fees.
County Chair Frank Bruno noted a new business incubator was about to open in Daytona Beach, and “We want to get people back to work.”
The moratorium is one way of stimulating the housing market, he added.
The council voted unanimously to have staff prepare an ordinance for their approval at the Thursday, Aug. 18, meeting, instituting a full moratorium on transportation-impact fees for two years. The moratorium will exclude the $6,066 impact fees for schools. Starting in the third year, fees will return in one-third increments, with full impact fees re-established in the fifth year.
The moratorium does not apply to commercial projects, and will apply only to homes in “infill” or already-developed areas, not to homes in outlying areas that would require new roads and utilities.
During the moratorium, the council will look at changes in impact-fee structure to promote construction in infill areas.
Council Member Carl Persis questioned whether new home builders can compete with the low prices on foreclosed and distressed homes with amenities.
“This is not going to be a magic wand to have people flocking to your new homes,” he said.
Persis asked for quarterly reports showing how many building permits have been pulled, with detailed cost analysis, to see if the moratorium helps.
Public Works estimates the financial hit to the roads program will be around $1.5 million a year for the two years of full moratorium.
The builders said they will also ask Volusia County Schools and municipalities to waive impact fees during the moratorium.
Cities add their own fire, parks, police and sometimes transportation-impact fees. Those range from $1,044 in Deltona, which currently has a moratorium in place, to $1,789 in DeLand, $655 in DeBary, $927 in Orange City, and $2,400 in Lake Helen, for average-size single-family homes.
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