Escambia commission examines mobility fees to fund roads and firefighters
Escambia County Commissioners will take a closer look at the possibility of creating a mobility fee later this year after hearing a proposed concept at a workshop meeting on Thursday.
The commissioners also expressed support for taking a closer look at how the county funds its fire department in light of the growth that is taking place in the county.
Earlier this year, Commissioner Jeff Bergosh proposed adopting competition rules that would require new developers to pay for necessary infrastructure extensions caused by new developments.
Commissioners backed the concept in May and asked county staff to bring back a proposal. The proposal that came back on Thursday had changed to a mobility fee proposal.
County Transportation Engineer Christine Fanchi said a mobility fee system is a simpler way to pay for infrastructure that makes it easy to calculate fees instead of relying on complex reports and reports. traffic studies.
“In our experience, simultaneity of transports is very vague, very difficult to interpret and often not implemented in a fair way,” said Fanchi. “By examining the concurrency alternatives, we found that Florida has developed a law to allow and encourage mobility fees since 2013.”
What is simultaneity:Concurrency requirements offered as a solution to control growth in Escambia County
Current plan:Escambia County considering rule change to require developers to pay for infrastructure upgrades
No new taxes:No tax increase for Escambia County this year, but CFO says trends are heading in the wrong direction
Fanchi said that since 2012, more than 23 counties and cities have adopted some type of mobility fee and at least 20 are in the process of developing mobility fees. Fees can change depending on the type of development or the geographic location of the development, according to Fanchi.
For the county to implement the fees, it would have to create a mobility plan and define special districts and fee rates in those districts, Fanchi said. The county is expected to hire a consultant and spend around $ 400,000 over 12 months to develop the plan.
Fanchi said if a $ 3,000 fee was in place for every home built in 2020, the county would have generated $ 4.6 million in new revenue.
Commissioner Doug Underhill stressed at the meeting that that number would almost double what the county could spend on repaving roads.
Fanchi said a royalty of $ 5 per square foot for commercial development would have generated $ 29 million.
Commissioner Jeff Bergosh said he supports the plan and the county needs to do something to be able to pay for the necessary infrastructure.
“I know a lot of people are very comfortable with the status quo, and that’s leading to some of what I’ve seen in my district, which is rampant and uncontrollable growth that robs the infrastructure of the capacity. to support it, ”says Bergosh. “So with something like that, at least there would be some revenue stream to offset it somewhat.”
Commission President Robert Bender expressed less support, saying he believed it was a tax on new owners and pointed out that the commission had refused to increase fire fees on the county in June because the commissioners were against the increase in taxes.
“I don’t know how it’s different,” Bender said, later adding “… You dress him up, put lipstick on it, he’s still a pig.”
Bergosh said he was against increasing taxes on existing homeowners, but the county needed to find a way to pay for its growth.
Underhill said he agreed it was a tax hike, but it was necessary.
“It’s reasonable to assume that it could have an impact on affordable housing and things like that, but we can’t continue to deny the cost of doing business,” Underhill said. “Paving a road costs a lot more than people think. “
Commissioner Steven Barry said he was in favor of a more in-depth look at the concept, but once the county passes its current budget, and suggested the commission discuss it in October.
Bergosh agreed and said he would bring the proposal back in October.
Responding to Bender’s point about funding the fire department, Barry said he might have made a different decision if the funding for the fire department had been brought up earlier in the year, rather than the day the county had to set its tax rate for the coming year.
“Over the years, especially with the increases in MSBU (such as fire fees), I have been very opposed to (them),” Barry said. “Given the current financial situation, I’m not sure that holds up.”
Bergosh said he was working on a plan he will come up with next month that he hopes will solve the fire department’s funding problems.
“The money is there, new money is out there, there is a way to do it, and I’ll bring it in,” Bergosh said. “And I just hope we can have a discussion like this.”
Jim Little can be reached at [email protected] and 850-208-9827.
Want more local news? If you are already a subscriber, thank you! Otherwise, subscribe and help keep coverage of the most important local news coming.