We applaud the three newest Sumter County commissioners for standing up to the bullying Villages Developer and his minions on the controversial impact fee issue.
The commissioners – Craig Estep, Gary Search and Oren Miller – voted last week to increase impact fees by 75 percent. The three were elected last year by voters angry about a 25 percent tax hike in 2019 that was rammed through by the Developer’s puppet commission.
On Tuesday, they stood their ground and sent a strong message to the Developer that he would need to start paying his fair share of impact fees rather than expanding his community on the backs of Sumter County residents. The three also should be commended for taking the action despite facing hours of gripes from the Developer-stacked audience making ridiculous statements about growth in the county coming to an end and the remaining puppet commissioners, Garry Breeden and Doug Gilpin, who openly insulted the new commissioners during the meeting.
It’s important to note that the commissioners were forced into taking action after another Developer puppet and Villages employee, state Rep. Brett Hage, co-sponsored a bill that would limit impact fee increases to 3 percent per year and would be retroactive to Jan. 1. The commission originally had rejected a proposal from The Villages to raise those fees by 40 percent and put off a decision on raising impact fees until July.
For the record, the impact fees that will be paid by the Developer per single-family lot will increase from $972 to $1,701. We hardly think that increase will stop growth in Sumter County liked the stacked audience predicted. That clearly was a scare tactic shared with them by the Developer and since he pays their checks, they blindly passed it along.
As we said earlier, we take our hats off to the three new commissioners, who, by the way, also have found themselves in the middle of a witch hunt by former circuit judge George Angeliadis over communications they’ve had with nearly a dozen other people. Those commissioners are residents of The Villages and they don’t deserve the treatment they’re receiving from the Developer and his top political hack.
But most importantly, they came through on their campaign promises to watch out for the residents who elected them instead of tossing their ethics to the wind like Gilpin, Breeden and Villages “House” boy Hage. In this day and age, it’s truly refreshing to see politicians make promises and then follow through on them.