Pasco County considers mobility fee rate update

The Pasco County Commission is considering changes to its mobility fee rate structure, which could lead to higher rates in a couple of categories by virtue of removing discounts they now receive.

The update also calls for lowering fees in seven land-use categories, and changing the fee charged for residential development in rural areas on lots of 5 acres or more.

Mobility fees are based on the transportation impacts caused by new development, which is typically expressed in the number of trips the development generates, as well as the length of the trips it creates, according to Bill Oliver, of W.E. Oliver P.E., LLC, the county’s consultant on the mobility fee update.

The mobility fees are charged to new construction.

Currently, the mobility fee for a new single family home is $9,800 in the rural district; $8,570 in the suburban district; and, $5,835 in the urban district.

During a Sept. 25 workshop, a majority of commissioners agreed that removing a 7 percent incentive for apartments in the county’s urban fee district would not pose any problems for the county.

Commissioner Mike Moore urged his colleagues to drop that incentive.

“It’s no secret, my frustration, on every corner and every street, we’re putting up apartments,” Moore said.

“We don’t need any more high-end apartment complexes on 54 and 56, in that corridor. So, why would we incentivize them?”

“We’re talking about taking up valuable land, frontage of (State Roads) 54/56, that could be job creators, and they’re getting filled with apartment complex after apartment complex and storage facility after storage facility, and it’s getting crazy.

Commissioner Kathryn Starkey, however, expressed reluctance.

“We have a shortage of workforce housing. I think we ought to be careful,” Starkey said.

Moore said he’s talking about high-end apartments that are popping up along the corridor.

Starkey said one way to address her concern might be to set a threshold to identify apartment developments that could continue to receive an incentive, and those which would not.

While commissioners cannot take any actions at workshops, their discussion can indicate which way they’re leaning. In this case, they agreed to bring back the apartment incentives issue for when they hold a public hearing on the proposed fee update.

On another category, Starkey failed to sway a majority of commissioners when she suggested eliminating, or at least reducing, the incentive for hotel development.

“I’m not sure we need to subsidize hotels anymore,” Starkey said. “They’re running at 90 percent occupancy.”

Moore said he’d want more information before going that route.

“Do we have enough product yet? How much product do we need in Pasco County before we take that away?” Moore asked.

Starkey said the incentive wouldn’t have to be stripped entirely, but the county could charge something.

“They’re paying zero,” she said.

Commissioner Jack Mariano suggested looking at the issue again in five years, when the county plans to do its next update of the mobility fee rates.

Commissioner Ron Oakley agreed: “We’re trying our best to be a premier county and we’re getting there. Don’t put the brakes on before we get there.”

On another issue, Oakley said asked if the county could reduce the gap between the fees paid in rural districts, versus the other fee districts.

Oliver explained that the rates paid in rural areas are higher because residents living there drive longer distances, thereby having a greater impact on the county’s roads. They also enjoy a higher level of service because there’s less congestion.

Oakley said the disparity in rates bothers rural residents.

“They’re concerned about having to pay so much more here, and everybody says ‘Well that’s because you’ve got a longer trip  on the road and that’s got more impact.

“It seems like it’s harsh,” Oakley said, noting a lot of “have been arguing and fussing” because of high mobility fees.

David Goldstein, chief assistant county attorney, said the proposed fee schedule addresses that issue.

Under that schedule, a new single-family home built on 5 acres or more in the rural district would pay the same fee as the same-size home built in the suburban district, which is $8,570. Those built on smaller lots in the rural district would continue to pay $9,800.

Goldstein noted: “Our vision for the rural area really is larger lots, so we didn’t think that a large lot in the rural area should be penalized for building on a large lot in the rural area.”

The update calls for reducing fees in these categories: High-rise condominiums; age-restricted communities; congregate care facilities; college/university in suburban/rural areas; churches in suburban areas; hospitals; and hardware/paint stores (but not big box stores such as Lowe’s or Home Depot).

The update also introduces five new land uses: Non-veterinary kennel; breakfast/lunch only restaurant; fast-casual restaurant; ice-skating arena; and active/passive warehouse.

Besides changing specific categories, there’s also a proposal to update the mobility fee schedule every five years, instead of approximately every three years, as has been the practice.

Lengthening the time between updates, coupled with an increasing number of permit applications, would allow the county to reduce the permit administration fee from $392 per permit to $136 per permit, Goldstein said.

The update also proposed additional incentives to spur development along U.S. 19.

Next, the proposed fee schedule goes to the Pasco County Planning Commission for its recommendation, and then it comes back to County Commission for final action.

The Planning Commission is scheduled to take up the issue at an Oct. 25 public hearing. The County Commission has two public hearings scheduled, on Nov. 27 and Dec. 11.

If adopted, county staff recommends that the new fees take effect on Jan. 1.

Mobility Fees update
Pasco County is considering an update to its mobility fee schedule.

Some quick facts:

  • Pasco County’s mobility fee was last updated in 2014. (Since then, infrastructure costs have increased by 6.7 percent and the county’s incentives program has expanded).
  • Fees have essentially held constant since 2011.
  • The county has rural, suburban and urban fee districts.
  • There are 11 fee schedules, with 81 land uses in each schedule.
  • The fee schedule has incentives to encourage specific types of development, in specific areas. (The county pays those subsidies, using taxes from nongrowth sources).
  • The update introduces five new land uses. They are: Non-veterinary kennel; breakfast/lunch only restaurant; fast-casual restaurant; ice-skating arena; and active/passive warehouse.
  • The update also calls for reducing fees in seven land use categories. They are: High-rise condominiums; age-restricted communities; congregate care facilities; college/university in suburban/rural areas; churches in suburban areas; hospitals; and hardware/paint stores (but not big box stores such as Lowe’s or Home Depot).
  • The proposal also calls for updating the mobility fee schedule every five years, instead of every three; and, reducing the administrative fee for permit applications from $392 per permit to $136 per permit.

Source: Bill Oliver, of W.E. Oliver P.E., LLC, the county’s consultant on its mobility fee schedule update. This information was presented by Oliver to the Pasco County Commission during a workshop on Sept. 25.

Published October 3, 2018

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