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Letters to the Editors

Commission takes just minutes to give away public money

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 4, 2000


Editor: Read this action taken by the Citrus County Commission. Both areas are in Citrus Hills. Following excerpts are from the minutes of the commission meeting:

#12-D HAMPTON HILLS RECREATION IMPACT FEE AGREEMENT

Motion by Commissioner Batchelor, seconded by Commissioner Fowler, to approve and authorize the Chairman to sign a Recreation Impact Fee Agreement with Hampton Hills, a Florida general partnership, for the construction of a community recreational center in Citrus Hills at $1,100,215.

Joyce Moore expressed concern for impact fees that were charged for her home, that all citizens should be treated the same, etc.

Discussion followed regarding the current ordinance, addressing this issue at the impact fee meeting, government requirements of developers, etc.

The Chairman called a question on the motion, and the motion carried unanimously.

#12-E CANTERBURY LAKES INC. RECREATION IMPACT FEE AGREEMENT

Upon motion by Commissioner Bartell, seconded by Commissioner Phillips, and carried unanimously, the Board approved and authorized the Chairman to sign a Recreation Impact Fee Agreement with Canterbury Lakes, Inc., a Florida Corporation, for construction of a community recreation center at $111,679."
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By this action, the Board of County Commissioners has given $1.2-million to a private developer to be used at the developer's pleasure.
Apparently no plans or blueprints of what would be built were shown, just that this developer would get this gift for the construction of a community center, in this case two community centers.
To clarify: An impact fee is charged to any person/entity who constructs a building. This fee is then allocated to different areas of our government. A percentage goes to roads, a percentage to libraries, a percentage to emergency services, etc., and of course, the percentage of that which is called recreational is the one involved in this instance.
The fly in the ointment is the developer who, instead of accepting his development's use of the public recreation that would be provided, wants to add prestige and sales appeal to his developments by offering auditoriums, swimming pools, exercise spas for the exclusive use of the residents within his developments. But instead of using his own money, he wants the impact fee money from the county to pay for it.
Then, to top this off, the developer charges his residents dues in order to use the facility built with the impact fees already paid by these residents. Nice work if you can get it.
The commissioners have debated the schedule on impact fees now for months. Contractors and the building industry in general have been lobbying against any increase in the impact fees. A consulting firm hired by the county to survey and recommend a schedule of fees suggested the fees be increased.
Up until now, most of the talk centered on the rate, but it does seem clear that some other areas should be cleared up. Public funds (taxes) should not be used by private enterprises to build their own versions of recreation facilities.
Although the commissioners have taken months to make a decision on the impact fee regulations, it didn't take long to give away $1.2-million.
John W. Glass, Citrus Hills

Citrus High thanks Black Diamond crew

Editor: The athletic department of Citrus High School extends our sincere thanks to Stan Olsen of Black Diamond Ranch, course superintendent Laurie Frutchey and their staff, Lisa Swing, Rick Brown, Teresa Neel, Steve Vermilyea and Stacy Daigneau.

These generous people donated two days of labor, aerating, verticutting, mowing, fertilizing and applying insecticides and weed killers to help prepare our football field for the upcoming season.

In addition to providing the equipment and labor necessary for this job, the crew trained our maintenance staff so we can keep up their good work throughout the year. When they saw that our reel mower needed service, they loaded it on their truck and took it to their shop to be sharpened and conditioned.

What a terrific example of community support for our kids. We are deeply appreciative of Black Diamond's efforts, and we know the Hurricane fans will really see a big difference in our football next fall.

Many thanks, Black Diamond!
-- Vicki Overman, athletic director, Citrus High School

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