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County may cut impact fees
Commissioner Jim Norman says it wouldkick-start construction.
By BILL VARIAN, Times Staff Writer
Published January 17, 2008
TAMPA - Hillsborough County commissioners are considering whether to temporarily reduce impact and other construction fees to kick-start the moribund residential construction industry.
Commissioner Jim Norman asked the county staff to prepare a package of incentives for home building. He wants something prepared in case a Jan. 29 property tax reduction measure on the statewide ballot fails to pass.
Norman said the county needs to do what's in its power to spur the local economy by putting roofers and carpenters back to work. That will become more important if the property tax package fails and people remain reticent about buying new homes.
"These are tough times," Norman said. "These people are dying out there without jobs. You've got to do something."
The rest of the board unanimously backed the proposal in concept.
However, Commissioner Rose Ferlita expressed concern about the county acting too soon to reduce any source of revenue. She said she believes the state will pass some form of property tax reduction, regardless of the Jan. 29 outcome, meaning the county may take in less money.
Residential construction is down across the nation, sharply in parts of Florida, including the Tampa Bay region. Legislators are hoping that the proposal before voters to reduce taxes for homesteaded properties will spur construction. But the amendment faces strong opposition from government employees and some owners of nonhomesteaded properties.
Norman offered his proposal at the end of the Wednesday's meeting, when few were in attendance. The idea could be seen by some growth management advocates as a move to gut impact fees, which help pay for roads and schools made necessary by new homes.
While Norman emphasized impact fees Wednesday, he said after the meeting he is open to any ideas. For instance, he said would like to ask banks whether they would consider offering lower interest rates on loans to builders that break ground on new subdivisions.
Any reduction in impact fees would be temporary, for six months to a year, he said.
"It's not just waiving impact fees," Norman said. "It's just trying to create a financial environment that's better than anywhere else."