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Front Page » Top Stories » County Gives Initial Ok For Increase In Impact Fees

County Gives Initial Ok For Increase In Impact Fees

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Written by on February 22, 2007

By Dan Dolan
Despite heated opposition from builders, the school board’s controversial plan to triple impact fees on all new home construction won tentative approval Tuesday from the Miami-Dade County commission.

At the request of the Miami-Dade County Public School Board, commissioners approved legislation that would add about $6,000 to the price of a new three-bedroom home and $2,000 to a small condo. The money would be earmarked for new classroom construction.

Increased fees aren’t a certainty, officials say. Before final action is taken, the proposal must grind through the commission’s committee system, where details may change or could be killed outright. That could take months.

"I think it would be prudent to request a study on exactly how this will impact housing," said Commissioner Joe Martinez, who heads the budget committee and sits on the government operations committee, which are expected to review the legislation. "The only people really impacted by this are homebuyers. Builders will just pass along the cost."

Builders Association of South Florida executive Truly Burton conceded that developers wouldn’t absorb impact fees. But she said her 850-member group and the Latin Builders Association fear higher fees would drive buyers out of the slumping housing market. She said price hikes would hit working families hardest.

"Under this fee formula, an affordable-housing unit would pay the same as a McMansion," Ms. Burton said. "This is very detrimental to working families."

Ms. Burton said builders would not object to doubling the current average fee of $2,500, which hasn’t been raised for a decade. Any increase should be phased in over two or three years, she said.

The current proposal calls for fee increases to take effect immediately.