Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Impact Fee Gets Support, Criticism at First Hearing

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Impact Fee Gets Support, Criticism at First Hearing

Article excerpt

Byline: BETH REESE CRAVEY

Some of them blasted the proposed impact fee increase as potential disaster for Clay County's growth and homebuilding industry and a barrier for low- and middle-income families who want to buy a new home.

"If this were being imposed on general citizens, you would have people here with flaming torches," said opponent Bill Garrison, a member of the building industry.

Some of them supported the fee increase as a way to help Clay schools keep up with growth and boost students' educational experiences.

"I care about our children and want the best for them," said resident Sandra Goldman. "Unregulated growth has already weakened our schools. The amount of money needed for school construction is staggering."

But all 13 residents who told the County Commission what they thought about a proposed educational impact fee increase on Tuesday during the first of two public hearings will have to wait a while longer for a decision.

The commission will hold a second hearing and vote on the issue Sept. 27.

The School Board has asked the commission to increase the impact fee on new residential construction from $2,000 to $7,034 for single family homes, $920 to $3,236 for multi-family units, and $1,660 to $5,979 for mobile homes. The current rates were imposed in 2003.

The extra revenue is needed to help close a $420.6 million gap between the school district's facility needs and the $609.1 million available from existing sources, school district officials said. The School Board also may ask the commission to schedule a half-cent sales tax referendum, but has not yet voted on that issue. A sales tax referendum was narrowly defeated in 2003.

Some residents who support the fee increase asked the board to seek an even higher amount. But last week the board stood by its request, saying it was legally defensible. …

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