tampabay.com

Less development means budget changes

By CATHERINE E. SHOICHET
Published January 13, 2007


INVERNESS - More than three months after approving the county's 2007 budget, commissioners might have to tighten the purse strings in the wake of a housing market slump.

"Permitting activity has fallen sharply," management and budget director Cathy Taylor wrote in a memo this week.

That means impact fees and permits are pumping less money into county coffers than officials expected.

And the gap between budgeted revenue and actual revenue in certain areas is "significant," Taylor wrote.

Commissioners will have to pass a resolution changing portions of the county's approved 2007 budget to make up the difference, she said.

It was unclear Friday what impact that would have on planned county staffing and services.

Senior budget analyst Janice Saltmarsh said county officials haven't determined how much money to shave off the budget or where the cuts will take place.

In her memo to County Administrator June Fisher, Taylor detailed the difference between budgeted and actual revenue for October, November and December.

In those three months, the county planned for $800,000 in permit revenue to go to its building inspection fund. But the county received $494,710 - 62 percent of the expected amount.

Road impact fees for that period were $889,455 - 38.7 percent of the budgeted $2.3-million.

Commissioners unanimously approved the county's $213-million fiscal year 2007 budget in October.

Projections for revenue from impact fees and permits came from an analysis of past numbers and the county's 2005 impact fee study, Saltmarsh said.

In 2005, Citrus issued a record number of building permits for new homes: 3,309. Last year, only 1,625 were issued, a decrease of more than 50 percent.

The County Commission likely will vote on budget changes in February, Saltmarsh said.

On Jan. 25, commissioners are slated to decide whether to increase impact fees.

Director of community services Brad Thorpe said Friday that his department hadn't yet discussed budget changes. But he said decreased revenues could lead to delayed projects.