PORT CHARLOTTE — Developer impact fees could be on the rise in Charlotte County, and the increase could almost double the impact fee cost for a single-family home.
County commissioners cite the county’s population growth and escalating construction costs as needs for change.
“Looking at our current economy and looking at the accelerated population growth we have, I’ve come to a hard conclusion but the evidence is true that almost ever category needs to be at 100%,” Commission Chair Bill Truex said at a recent meeting.
No official changes occurred, but a second meeting on the matter was approved for May 24.
Impact fees raise millions of dollars for capital projects including roads, libraries, parks and fire stations.
The fees are broken into: 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 of single-family homes to $5,660, up 28% from the former $4,409.
If all six categories were raised to 100%, that could almost double the current $5,660 price tag, bringing it to just under $10,000, according to county documents.
State legislation is in place restraining local governments from making large impact fee increases unless “extraordinary circumstances” can be declared. The county sidestepped that law in December by declaring circumstances in the form of a development explosion.
For the new increase, officials are declaring escalating construction costs, explosive population growth and the need to develop roads, fire stations, public buildings and parks to accommodate that growth.
Assistant County Administrator Claire Jubb projected that — if commissioners did not raise each category to 100% — the county would have an estimated annual shortfall of $11.4 million in funds for those improvement projects.
As of July 2021, the U.S. Census Bureau lists the county’s population as 194,843.
“We are creeping up to 200,000 population,” Jubb said. “There is a lot of interest in this area. You know that you see it on our roads.”
Looking at the next six years, Jubb also presented shortfalls for every impact fee category. Each category need was based in response to explosive population growth, escalating cost of construction and other variables.
For unfunded transportation needs, there would be a shortfall of around $69.6 million.
For unfunded regional and community parks needs, there would be a shortfall of around $13.1 million.
For unfunded library need, there would be a shortfall of around $803,000.
For unfunded fire/EMS needs, there would be a shortfall of around $7.6 million.
For unfunded law enforcement needs, there would be a shortfall of around $18.3 million.
For unfunded public building needs, there would be a shortfall of around 18.9 million.
“I feel that extraordinary circumstances have been demonstrated but it’s up to you (commissioners) to decide,” Jubb said. “If you did decide that, then at your next publicly noticed workshop, it would allow you to set the impact fees at a higher level.”
Commissioner Ken Doherty supported the 100% for transportation but did not say whether the other categories should increase the same, just that they should be increased.
Commissioners Christopher Constance and Joseph Tiseo both supported the 100% increase for all categories.
“To think that we’re leaving $11.4 million every year we don’t go to 100%,” Tiseo said. “That’s what we’re leaving on the table right now.”
Commissioners unanimously agreed to move forward with the process of increasing the impact fees.
The next public workshop on the matter is set for May 24 at the County Administration building, 18500 Murdock Circle, Suite 536, Port Charlotte. The meeting begins at 9 a.m.