Thursday, January 29, 2015

Action Alert: BoCC votes Feb. 3rd on proposal to extend impact fee reductions

On Tuesday, February 3rd the Lee County Commissioners will be casting a critical vote setting the future direction of the County’s Impact Fee Program. Much is at stake for advocates of complete streets and county taxpayers in this decision, so plan to share your views with commissioners at the Feb. 3rd meeting or before. There will be an opportunity for public comment beginning at 9:30 a.m. in the County Commission Chambers. There will also be a public hearing on this proposal on March 3rd prior to final Board action, so there will be a second opportunity to participate.  Click here for BikeWalkLee's Jan. 29th letter to Commissioners urging them to vote to return impact fees to the full 100% rate, as modified by the Duncan Report updates.

Why do impact fees matter?
Lee County’s Impact Fee Program was established in 1990 to provide the revenue needed to pay the capital costs imposed on a community by the thousands of new residents locating in Lee County each year and the new businesses that are necessary to satisfy their needs. The concept behind the plan then as now is that ...Growth Should Pay for Growth. They are basically user fees, and the road impact fees are very similar to gas taxes. They are used exclusively to pay transportation costs to satisfy the cost of new infrastructure within the larger district area of the new homes or businesses.

What do Lee County’s Impact Fees Pay for?
· Our New Schools
· Our New or upgraded roadways, including bike and pedestrian facilities
· Our Community and Regional Parks
· Our EMS and Fire Services

What's at stake for bike/ped world?
· Road impact fees are a significant source of funds for bike/ped improvements, both as part of roadway projects and as stand-alone bike/ped projects, and any reduction in impact fees has an adverse impact on funds available for these improvements.

· According to LeeDOT's 1/16/15 report to Commissioner Mann detailing the list of completed transportation projects funded with road impact fees from 2000 to present, 38% of bike/ped facilities during this period were funded with impact fees.

· Funding for the County's #1 priority, the Estero Blvd. Improvement project, a major roadway upgrade featuring bike/ped /transit improvements, could be jeopardized or further delayed due to the shortfall in transportation dollars, that will be further exacerbated if impact fees are not fully restored.

· For stand-alone, retrofit bike/ped projects, the County's funding formula directs 5% of impact fee revenues to these BPAC list projects. The past two years of 80% impact fee reduction has resulted in a loss of $800 K for BPAC projects--a loss of almost 50% of the overall funding formula for retrofit projects. Currently, BAPC has $58 M worth of bike/ped prioritized projects waiting to be funded, and at the current rate of spending [an average of $1 M/year over past 10 years], it will take 50 more years to implement the approved plan.

· The loss of road impact fees also directly affects the Palomino Rd. shared use path project. In April, 2014, the BoCC approved a cooperative financing arrangement whereby road impact fees paid to the City of Fort Myers by the residents in communities along Palomino Lane will be set aside for this project. If the impact fees return to 100% level, $500 K will be available from impact fees to go towards this $1.9 M project. Without full impact fee rates, it will be decades before funds are sufficient to construct this needed and approved project.

BikeWalkLee's Position 

(Click here to read BikeWalkLee's Jan. 29th letter to Commissioners)
· BikeWalkLee has steadfastly opposed the suspension or reduction in impact fees over the past five years, opposed the Board's 80% reduction in impact fees in March 2013, urged the County Commissioners to end the reduction in Feb. 2014, and now urges the Board to reestablish the 100% impact fee program, as modified by the recommendations of the "Duncan Report".

· The Road Impact Fee Update Report (aka "Duncan Report") was released on 1/27/15 and sets the new 100% rate, which is a 4% reduction from the previous 100% rate.

· BikeWalkLee urges the Board to accept the Duncan reports (road and school impact fee update studies) and to set a public hearing for March 3rd to adopt the ordinance related to putting into effect the new impact fee schedules in the Duncan reports.

· BikeWalkLee is pleased that this draft ordinance includes language broadening the definition of what road impact fee funds can be used for, providing more flexibility to use funds for bike/ped improvements and bus pull out lane improvements that accommodate vehicle trips by providing alternative travel modes. This language change begins to move the road impact fee into a more multi-modal transportation approach, as BikeWalkLee has long advocated.

· BikeWalkLee urges the Board to take NO ACTION on the proposal to set a public hearing to adopt an ordinance that would reduce the impact fee rates below the new 100% rates, as established by the Duncan reports. The full cost of the impacts caused by the developments (i.e. the 100% rate) should be collected.

 BikeWalkLee's position is based on the following beliefs:
  • Growth should pay for growth  
  • Infrastructure costs should be a shared responsibility--residents, visitors, and developers
  • Quality of life is key to Lee County's future and economic success, and requires smart investments 
  • Loss of revenues for needed transportation infrastructure jeopardizes the goal of a safe and balanced multi-modal transportation system; and 
  • The costs of unmet infrastructure needs will invariably shift to Lee Co taxpayers .
What do I need to do?

1. Before Tuesday, February 3rd call, email and/or write the Commissioners to tell them you want the Impact Fees returned to the 100% level on March 13th, when the reduction is set to expire.

2. Write a Letter to the Editor of the News Press expressing your support of the 100% Impact Fee Program.

3. Speak at the Feb. 3rd (9:30 a.m.) County Commission meeting in support of the 100% Impact Fee rate.

4. Speak at the March 3rd (9:30 a.m.) County Commission public hearing before final vote on the impact fee rates.

Opportunities for Communicating with Individual Commissioners: (Write a letter, an email or call County Commissioners)

o John Manning:, 533-2224
o Cecil Pendergrass:, 533-2227
o Larry Kiker:, 533-2223
o Brian Hamman:, 533-2226
o Frank Mann:, 533-2225 [NOTE: only commissioner who voted against the impact fee reductions.]

Letters to the editor:
· submit online:
· submit by email:
· or any local/community paper that publishes letters to the editor

Background Links:

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