Study recommends drastic rise in Collier road impact fees

Friday, July 12, 2002


A study commissioned by Collier County officials has recommended raising road impact fees by an average of 228 percent.

The study has shocked the local development industry and even some county officials. The Collier Building Industry Association (CBIA) has hired its own consultant to examine the study and look for flaws in how it was done.

URS Consultants of Tampa conducted the study.

"It's a significant increase," said Phil Tindall, the county's impact fee coordinator. "The biggest factor in the increase is that the cost of right of way is going up."

Right of way costs are going up because land prices have increased.

"We don't have much flexibility when it comes to purchasing right of way because it has to be the land by the road (when the road is widened)," Tindall said. "The cost of land also tends to go up when people find out we're looking to purchase it."

The study's purpose was to increase the impact fees as much as lawfully possible, Tindall said.

"This increase is based on thoroughly vetted figures," Tindall said. "It's all legally defensible."

The county probably could have tweaked the numbers up even more if it had wanted to, Tindall said.

CBIA officials are reviewing the study to see if it really is legally defensible. Director David Ellis said the large increase was a surprise.

"We were expecting an increase of 30 to 40 percent," Ellis said. "We wouldn't have liked that, but we could have accepted it. I don't think anyone expected this."

Ellis said Lincks & Associates of Tampa will examine the study for CBIA and see if anything was done incorrectly.

"I understand the results but I can't tell you how the results were calculated," Ellis said. "We want someone independent to come in and look at this who understands what was done and tell us why the costs are so high.

"We don't mind paying our fair share but we want to make sure this is our fair share," Ellis said.

Even if the study is done correctly, commissioners should still be reluctant to raise impact fees so much because it would negatively impact the community, Ellis said.

Collier County Commissioner Fred Coyle said he was surprised by the findings.

"I'm actually shocked," Coyle said. "I know the reason. It's because our consultants failed to factor in right of way cost in the past. That's why I don't want the county to use consultants anymore."

He would prefer it if the county stopped hiring consultants and just agreed on a percentage amount to escalate impact fees each year.

Coyle said he didn't know if the county would reduce the amounts the consultants had recommended.

"It's really going to depend on the data," Coyle said. "We'll have to evaluate how it will impact people. I feel very strongly that growth should pay for growth, but I am very concerned about the data we are using."

Impact fees are assessed for each new home and business built in the county and aren't limited to transportation. The fees initially are paid by developers, who typically pass them on to consumers in the form of higher prices.

Other fees are assessed for building public schools, libraries, emergency services and parks. Those fees weren't included in this study.

Tindall said the county has to raise impact fees as much as possible because it is one of the few sources of revenue that can be increased for road construction.

Commissioners have previously expressed opposition to raising property taxes for roads and voters rejected a half-percent sales tax hike that was on the ballot in November 2001. The tax, which would have gone toward road construction, was rejected by 71 percent of voters.

The study will be discussed at a public presentation on July 16 at the North Naples Regional Library. Ellis is urging CBIA members to attend.

The County Commission is expected to consider adopting the new impact fees at its July 30 meeting. County staff is recommending the commission adopt the study and have the new impact fees begin Sept. 1.

The CBIA will lobby commissioners for a lower impact fee increase and also wants the commission to wait until September before making any decisions.

"This is a major decision and there are a lot of questions that still need to be answered," Ellis said. "It just makes sense to wait until we can gather more information."

Road impact fees were increased in 2000, but previously hadn't been raised since 1992. The county has the option of raising impact fees every two years.

Before the impact fees were raised, the county collected $11.6 million in fees in 1999. In 2000, the county collected $13.2 million. Six months of that fiscal year occurred after the fees were raised.

In 2001, the county collected $17.7 million in road impact fee money and during the first seven months of fiscal 2002, the county has collected $10.4 million in impact fees.

Transportation impact fees

Transportation impact fees now and the proposed changes that will take place if the Collier County Commission approves numbers recommended in a study recently completed by URS Consultants of Tampa.
Residential homes of less
than 1,500 square feet

Current: $1,825
New: $5,655
210 percent increase

Residential homes,
1,501-2,499 square feet
Current: $2,433
New: $7,536
210 percent increase

Residential homes of
over 2,500 square feet
Current: $2,871
New: $8,990
210 percent increase

Multifamily homes 1-2 stories
Current: $1,800
New: $5,593
211 percent increase

Multifamily homes 3-9 stories
Current: $1,811
New: $5,627
211 percent increase

Retirement homes
Current: $1,012
New: $3,172
213 percent increase

Current: $1,512
New: $4,705
211 percent increase

High rise condominiums
Current: $1,079
New: $3,356
211 percent increase
  Hotels factored by room
Current: $1,762
New: $5,915
236 percent increase

Golf Course factored
for each 18 holes

Current: $156,334
New: $486,982
212 percent increase

Movie theaters factored
for each movie screen

Current: $10,571
New: $67,042
534 percent increase

Elementary schools factored
for each student

Current: $213
New: $663
211 percent increase

Middle schools factored
for each student

Current: $322
New: $1,001
211 percent increase

High schools factored
for each student

Current: $421
New: $1,308
211 percent increase

Churches factored for
each 1,000 square feet

Current: $2,190
New: $6,808
211 percent increase

High rise condominiums
Current: $1,079
New: $3,356
211 percent increase