Sumter County commissioners set public hearing on impact fees

Sumter County has room for growth in its roadway impact fees charged to developers, according to a comprehensive study by Tindale Oliver, a Tampa consulting firm that specializes in transportation, community planning and public finance.

Impact fees were a major issue at two budget hearings last month and several speakers suggested the county raise impact fees instead of imposing a 25 percent property tax increase, which was approved on Sept. 24.

At Tuesday’s meeting, commissioners adopted the report completed earlier this month and set a public hearing on impact fees.ı

The public hearing was scheduled at 5 p.m. Nov. 12 at the Sumter County Courthouse in Bushnell.

Roadway impact fees are the amounts paid by developers to offset the cost of new or improved roads to serve new areas.

In retirement communities like the Villages of Southern Oaks, Sumter County currently charges impact fees of $901 per single family home and $544 per attached housing unit.

The county could charge impact fees of $2,450 for single-family homes and $1,381 for attached units in those areas, according to the study. Those fees would be justified by a calculation that includes cost, traffic volume, capacity, state and local credits and other factors.

If the county wanted to apply a cost reduction factor of 40 percent, the study said, retirement community fees still would rise to $972 per single-family home and $552 per attached unit. Applying the cost reduction could make the county more competitive with surrounding communities.

Other nearby counties also offer reduced rates, although a speaker at one of last month’s hearings said impact fees for a single-family home in Collier County, which includes Marco and Naples, are $20,000 for a single-family home.

The Sumter County impact fees for single-family homes outside retirement communities would be $6,664 per home or $2,666 at the reduced rate. The current fee is $2,600.

Commissioners also approved a request for bank proposals to provide a $22.6-million loan, which County Administrator Bradley Arnold said will be used primarily for two road construction projects – County Road 525 East near U.S. 301, which serves an industrial area, and the extension of Buena Vista Boulevard south of State Road 44.

Road construction costs provided justification for the 25 percent property tax hike, but borrowing money will allow the county to build the roadways sooner, officials said.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Commissioner Doug Gilpin also gave a vigorous defense of his employment by T&D Concrete, a key company in the expansion of The Villages.

Gilpin came under attack, although not by name, during the public forum at Tuesday’s meeting and at last month’s budget hearings.

“I have always abstained (from voting) when there was any possible conflict,” he said, adding that the company does “a lot of good work and provides a lot of good jobs.”

He said the company has served the county for more than 20 years and has been involved in many charitable activities.