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St. Johns Raises Impact Fees on Residential Construction, Decreases Them on Commercial

| March 7, 2011

Impact in St. Johns. (© FlaglerLive)

The St. Johns County Commission last week raised impact fees on residential construction between 13.5 and 16.5 percent, depending on square footage. The county lowered impact fees on commercial and industrial construction.

For houses smaller than 1,800 square feet, the impact fee will rise from $7,276 to $8,259. For houses larger than 1,800 square feet, the fee rises from $10,122 to $11,796.

In Flagler County, in comparison, the combined impact fee on single-family homes (including education, park and transportation impact fees) is $5,306. In Palm Coast, it’s $8,928.

Some local elected officials, echoing the desires of building and real estate interests, want to put a moratorium on impact fees to spur a return to development. St. John’s action contrasts sharply with those discussions. Don Tobin reported in December that 19 Florida counties either lowered or suspended impact fees.

Impact fees are levied once on new construction. It’s a form of taxation designed to defray the impact of new construction. For example, a new house is assumed to bring new residents who’ll use roads, schools and parks. Property taxes alone cannot cover the cost of those services. Impact fees fill in some of those costs, but still don;t cover the entire cost of development to local governments.

The St. Johns County Commission adopted the new fees unanimously on March 1. The revised impact fees there are the result of the legally required process to ensure impact fees are based on the most recent and localized data. James Nicholas, the University of Florida’s former associate director of its environmental and land use law program, conducted the impact fee studies for St. Johns. The studies analyzed the actual cost of addressing the impact of new development on roads, public buildings, law enforcement, fire & rescue and parks and recreation and education.

The combined reductions of impact fees on on-residential construction averages to 49 percent, double the reduction recommended by Nicholas.

Those reductions break down as follows:

  • 42.7 percent reduction for general industrial from $3,017 to $1,729
  • 60.4 percent reduction for offices less than 100,000 square feet from $7,416 to
  • 40.9 percent reduction for commercial less than 100,000 square feet from $7,142
    to $4,218
  • 17.8 percent reduction for medical offices from $7,517 to $6,181
  • 64.3 percent reduction for hospitals from $8,300 to $2,963
  • 29.1 percent reduction for hotel/motel rooms from $4,421 to $3,133

Impact fees in St. Johns fund approximately 33 percent of the county’s capital improvement program. Of the $4.5 million per year in capital revenue currently generated from impact fees, $3 million is used to finance county debt. Impact fee reductions are effective immediately. Impact fee increases become effective on June 1.

6 Responses for “St. Johns Raises Impact Fees on Residential Construction, Decreases Them on Commercial”

  1. lawabidingcitizen says:

    Low impact fees allows developers to pass the costs on to existing taxpayers. It might work if there were buyers clamoring for houses with ready money to pay the fees, but in the kind of market where there are hundreds if not thousands of empty structures of all kinds, it’s around the bend to lunacy.

    There should be a moratorium on new development until a large portion, at least half, of the current inventory of homes, condos, offices, stores, etc. is sold.

  2. PC MAN says:

    The government telling businesses how they can run their business is socialism no ? lawabidingcitizen

  3. First of all, the headline for this article should be “St. John’s County LEADERS cut commercial impact fees and get serious about job growth”. The savings for ONE 50,000 sq foot commercial building will be $148,700. In comparison, at an average increase of $1328.50 per new home, it will take 112 homes to make up that difference.

    Second, comparing impact fess between local governments has no value. Each local government has unique issues which have a lot of bearing on the amount of infrastructure needed to support development. Think about St. John’s County, it’s long and spread out with many east west connectors like SR 16 with major development on them. They also have five bridges over the intracoastal waterway. Now consider Flagler County, by land mass we are 1/3 smaller than St. John’s and our development is primarily compacted east of US 1.

    Perhaps an even bigger factor in impact fees is the levels of services (LOS) decided by our elected officials. For example, in Palm Coast the LOS for parks is 8 acres for every 1000 citizens compared to 5 acres per 1000 in Flagler County. As such the impact fee is higher and the taxes to maintain those parks is higher too. I would also add that Palm Coast will not consider County parks in their calculation of LOS even though their citizens routinely use both.

    A good time to compare impact fees is when it come to competitiveness in the marketplace. If I want to build a commercial complex and the demographics are similar between two areas, I am certainly going to build where the start up costs are lower.

    Here is the COMPLETE list of combined Flagler County Residential Impact Fess by municipality.

    City of Bunnell:
    Water: $1,900.00
    Sewer: $1,900.00
    Flagler County Transportation Impact Fee: $1,438.10
    Educational Facilities Impact Fee $3,600.00
    $8,838.10 per SFR
    City of Palm Coast:
    Water Construction Impact Fee: $2,430.00
    Sewer Construction Impact Fee: $2,480.00
    Water and Sewer required hookup charges $2,535.00
    Park Impact Fee: $1,264.06
    Fire and Rescue System: $ 165.11
    Transportation Impact Fee: $3,868.39
    Educational Facilities Impact Fee $3,600.00
    $16,342.56 per SFR
    Flagler County:
    Transportation Impact Fee:
    Single Family Dwelling per Unit: $1,438.10
    Apartments $1,400.03
    Residential Condominium/Townhouse $ 733.83
    Parks & Recreation Impact Fee: $ 268.45
    Educational Facilities Impact Fee $3,600.00
    $5,306.55 per SFR
    Flagler Beach:
    Water Impact Fee: $1,883.00
    Sewer Impact Fee: $2,313.24
    Water and Sewer required hookup charges $1,580.00
    Flagler County Transportation Impact Fee: $1,438.10
    Parks & Recreation Impact Fee: $ 268.45
    Educational Facilities Impact Fee $3,600.00
    $11,082.79 per SFR

  4. Carl Hodges says:

    In comment to below; The impact fees are actually “eliminating” new home residential growth of St. Johns County with impact fees of $7,276-$11,796 on new home construction. Understanding the current economy and that (19) other Florida counties have either lowered or eliminated impact fees as a result thereof, defeats logic. I don’t understand St. John’s path on this issue. Using the “necesssity of impact fees” based on the “assumption” that residential new home inhabitants “will” use roads, parks and schools is ludicrous. I would like to see the historical statistics or data that only new home construction residents use our roads, parks and have children using our school system. By eliminating the impact fees, new home residential growth would be re-established including a new and permanent county taxpayer base, for each new home resident. I am also in complete agreement with our local builders. See above in their comment, same subject.

  5. My Daily Rant says:

    Its funny I just bought a piece of property in Flagler Estates for a total of $5,200.and have to pay over $8,000 in impact fees, just stupid….

  6. Cheryl says:

    Do they let payments be made on the $8,000 or do you have to pay it all at one time? I was wondering because we were looking in that area too. Thank you

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