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Impact fee increases presented at school board workshop

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At a workshop held on July 26, 2022, Hernando County School Board members were presented with potential new impact fees during a presentation by Nilgun Kamp of Benesch. Benesch is formerly known as Tindale Oliver, a public finance consulting firm. The calculated school impact fee schedule according to land use, and based on maximum fees set by House Bill (HB) 337 is as follows:

Residential Land Use
HB 337 Max Fees
Current Adopted Rate
Percent Increase
Single-family detached / Mobile home
$4,764
$3,176
50.00%
Townhouse / Condominium
$4,371
$2,914
50.00%
Multi-family
$4,795
$3,197
49.98%
Mobile home park
$1,198
$1,761
46.99%

The fees presented at this workshop were from a draft of the final report. No votes were taken during this meeting.

Impact fees for schools are one-time charges for new residential development. They can only be used to cover costs associated with new school facilities, and are not allowed to be used for replacement, maintenance, or operations. Kamp reported that schools and transportation are the most expensive items provided by local governments, summing to about 70-85% of all infrastructure.

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Included in the studied impact fees are HCSD’s current schools, which include 22 traditional schools, broken down as; 10 elementary schools, 3 K-8 (Kindergarten through grade 8) schools, 4 middle schools, and 5 high schools. Adult education centers, alternative learning facilities, and charter schools are excluded from the impact fee calculations.

These impact fees do not apply to neighborhoods that are deed-restricted for homeowners over the age of 55, who are not usually parents of students attending county public schools. According to Kamp, this only applies to roughly 10% of Hernando County residents.

Kamp reported that Hernando County ranks #24 of the 67 Florida counties in population growth rate, roughly 0.81% per year. The county ranks 28th in absolute population growth, adding an estimated 53,500 residents through 2050. “It’s a growing county, continuing to experience growth faster than in the past.”

Following a slight dip in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, traditional school enrollment increased to just over 21% in the 2021-22 school year. Prior to 2020, traditional enrollment numbers showed a steady rise each year for five years. According to Kamp, the trend indicates the need for additional facilities and resources in the coming years.

In 2021, HB-337 capped impact fee increases at a maximum of 12.5% each year with a ceiling of 50%. Impact fees cannot be increased more than once every 4 years. An exception arises when a study within the past 12 months shows extraordinary circumstances. When this occurs, two public workshops must take place, and 2/3 of the Board of County Commissioners must approve the increase.

Superintendent John Stratton asked Kamp for clarification of HB-337 with respect to impact fees levied specifically for schools, and those by the county. “…does that mean the school impact fee can be capped at 50% or is the total impact fee (HCSD and county) that’s capped at 50%?

“That’s an excellent question,” Kamp answered, “That’s another thing everybody is treating differently. There are arguments made both ways. Hernando County right now, for all their fees, they are combining it and looking at it because, if the intention was developers do not experience (an) increase more than 50%, it’s really the final check that day. I don’t think (the developers) care which area gets that money. If it’s a situation where the county needs more money for transportation but not as much for libraries, they can at least have that flexibility.”

She went on to say, “There have been other cases where the county attorneys’ opinions were that each should be treated on their own. So, we have no good answers on that bill.”

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