City slashes site and impact fees

By: 
Dec. 16, 2010

Staff says the reductions are possible because of greater efficiency.

Florida Hospital Flagler’s site inspection fees for its parking lot expansion project may soon be cut by about $9,000.
 

Thanks to a more efficient process, the city is now proposing to cut fees for all builders, regardless of the size.
 

Under the new system, fees will be based on the number of inspections, rather than the number of acres of the proposed site.
 

In the workshop Tuesday, Dec. 14, Community Development Director Nestor Abreu likened it to the way a restaurant establishes prices.
 

“They charge you by how much you eat,” he said. “They don’t charge you based on how big your waistline is.”
 

In addition, the base fee has been eliminated, saving some projects more than $1,000. The new fee structure more accurately reflects the city staff’s workload in processing and inspecting, Abreu said.
 

Abreu presented two examples.
 

First, an Exxon service station’s demolition and construction project would cost $4,500 under the current structure. Now, the fees will be $2,305, for a savings of $2,195.
 

Second, Florida Hospital Flagler’s proposed parking lot expansion would cost $11,010 for site inspections under the current structure. The proposed fees would be $1,945, for a savings of $9,065.
 

“We’ve reduced the number of departments that were involved, becoming more efficient from an internal operations standpoint, but also providing better service,” City Manager Jim Landon said.
 

Parks, fire and rescue
Finance Director Ray Britt explained more fee changes, promising that his formula-heavy presentation on impact fees would keep everyone’s interest. He said, with a hint of irony: “You just can’t make this stuff boring.”
 

Impact fees are dedicated funding sources intended to charge new growth for the future impact to the community. The fees can not be used for maintainenace of existing infrastructure.
 

Britt said commercial and residential impact fees for parks and also for fire and rescue have been recalculated. Staff recommends that commercial impact fees to support future growth of the fire and rescue system be reduced from about 54 cents per square foot to about 25 cents per square foot.
 

Even though the formula indicates the residential fire and rescue impact fee and the residential park impact fee should both go up, staff recommended that they stay the same, given the state of the economy.

FHBA CHALLENGE

The Flagler Home Builders Association has presented an alternate calculation to city staff.
 

The association argues that, according to the city’s own comprehensive plan, the city has overbuilt parks, and therefore no impact fees in support of new park construction need to be collected until 2025.
 

A reduction in fees may stimulate demand for house construction.
 

City staff will review the proposal, and the matter will come up for a vote Tuesday, Dec. 21, at the last City Council meeting of the year.