Clay County commissioners are displaying a new, insatiable appetite politicians and bureaucrats always have for other people’s money.
The county already collects impact fees. They are discussing adding even more.
Impact fees are supposed to pay for growth. In effect, they are a penalty on people who buy new homes.
The theory is that new homebuyers have an “impact” by increasing the need for new roads, schools and other public services.
But if someone moves from one part of the county to another, he has no impact.
If someone moves from outside the county, there is an impact but there is also an increase in revenue as he begins paying the same taxes all other residents pay.
Furthermore, why penalize growth?
If you don’t want growth, shut down the Chamber of Commerce and other organizations that promote growth.
Growth brings jobs, wealth and tax revenue. Maybe some people don’t want those things but don’t be fooled into thinking that it is a tax on developers or builders. Those fees are a cost of doing business and as such are priced into the product – which in this case is new homes.
Impact fees increase the cost of new homes by $10,000 to $20,000 in some areas.
At a time when politicians claim to be seeking ways to have more affordable housing, that does not seem to be moving in the right direction.
To its credit, the Florida Legislature last year placed limits on how much local governments can soak taxpayers with impact fees.
Clay County already imposes impact fees for schools and roads. Another tax would just be a higher penalty on new homeowners for seeking the American dream.
It isn’t as if Clay County were bursting at the seams either. From 2010 to 2020 Clay wasn’t even among the top 25 fastest-growing counties in Florida.
A study done for the county estimates an increase in population of about 25 percent through 2045 and says that will require an additional $227 million in capital costs.
With proper planning and the efficient use of existing resources there should be no need for fees that will increase home prices and penalize growth. Clay County enjoys moderate taxes compared to other counties and taxpayers don’t seem to be clamoring to compete for the No. 1 spot.