The Dade City Commission has unanimously given first-round approval to an ordinance that includes sizable increases of the city’s public safety impact fees.
The higher impact fees would apply to new residential, commercial and industrial construction valued at $5,000 or more.
The proposed public safety impact fee on new single-family homes would be $449.30 — a whopping increase over the current fee of $94.49.
That’s an increase of 376%, according to the summary of a report from Stantec Consulting Services Inc., the consulting firm that prepared the fee study.
The proposed rate for retail units would be $462.78 per EDU, a 52% increase from the current rate of $304.
An EDU is a unit based on the impact of a typical single-family detached dwelling.
Different types of uses are assigned EDU multipliers.
For instance a single-family dwelling equals 1.0 EDU, while a mobile home is assigned 0.75 EDU and a retail use is assigned 1,030 EDUs.
Commissioners gave the proposed fee schedule preliminary approval during their Aug. 10 meeting. No one offered public comment during the introduction and first reading of the proposed ordinance.
The second reading and adoption of the proposed ordinance are scheduled during the 5:30 p.m., meeting on Aug. 24, at City Hall, 38020 Meridian Ave.
Proceeds of the fees are intended to provide additional funding for the Dade City Police Department, at a time of surging growth and development in the East Pasco municipality.
The proposed impact fees are based on a recent study completed by Stantec Consulting Services Inc.
A city agenda memo explains that Stantec “determined that capital costs for the expansion of the police department caused by new growth should be borne by the developers of the new projects and the residents and businesses that will occupy the new structures.”
Stantec “has recommended the municipality’s public safety impact fee schedule be increased from a flat fee schedule to a fee schedule based on $449.30 per EDU in accordance with the schedule set forth in the study,” the memo continues.
The city’s public safety impact fees haven’t increased since 2004.
Officials say the proposed increases come at a critical time in the city’s history.
About 6,500 new rooftops and several commercial properties are approved to be built over the next 10 to 20 years, Melanie Romagnoli, the city’s community and economic development director, told commissioners.
Dade City Police Chief James Walters said the department will need to hire 46 additional sworn officers, in response to the city’s growth.
Additional revenues from the public safety fees would be used to address the police department’s increased costs of service delivery, operations, capital outlay, training and new equipment, officials say.
‘Antiquated’ impact fees
In addressing the proposed fee schedule, Peter Napoli, a senior financial consultant for Stantec, characterized the city’s existing impact fee model as “antiquated.”
He told commissioners that its impact fee schedule needs to be more in line with 2021 values through the Engineering News Record Construction Cost Index (ENR-CCI).
The proposed schedule “represents an updated proportional allocation between the property classes that you charge those impact fees to,” Napoli said.
He also explained the consequences of not increasing the fees.
By keeping the same fees, the consultants believe the city would be insufficiently covering the incremental cost of growth, according to Napoli.
When that happens, he said, “the difference between the costs and what you recover is shouldered by the existing taxpayers in the city.”
Napoli acknowledged there is at least one wrinkle in the city’s efforts to impose higher public safety impact fees.
A new Florida law, which took effect July 1, requires that new impact fees be phased in over years, rather than imposed within 90 days.
However, the consultant noted, Dade City may be exempt from the new law, if it exhibits a “demonstrated need” to accelerate the impact fee schedule.
City Attorney Thomas Thanas concurred with Napoli’s assessment, as the town will need to expand its police department, which, in turn, necessitates equipping and training new officers.
Thanas pointed out the Florida statute allows such impact fees to be applied to capital costs such as squad cars and other long-term investments. It can’t be used for salaries, however, he said.
Put another way, hiking impact fees “will help defer the cost of adding new officers to address the growth issues that we’ll be encountering over the next few years,” the city attorney said.
Additionally, Thanas outlined another finding that may work in the city’s favor to claim extraordinary circumstances to rapidly impose public safety impact fee increases.
It comes in the form of another new Florida law (House Bill 7051) that calls for new technology and training requirements for all police departments statewide.
The technology requirements include body-worn cameras, while training requirements span use of force, de-escalation techniques, and interactions with persons suffering from substance abuse disorder or mental illness.
Because of this law, Thanas observed the city’s police department “will be incurring additional expenses, even if we don’t have growth, we still have these costs to deal with, and some of the costs are eligible for being covered by a public safety impact fee.”
The city’s proposed ordinance calls for making the new impact fees effective within 90 days of adoption.
Proposed public safety impact fee schedule for the City of Dade City:
- Retail — $462.78 per 1,000 square-feet
- Single-family — $449.30 per dwelling unit
- Mobile home — $336.98 per dwelling unit
- Multi-family — $323.50 per dwelling unit
- Office — $220.16 per 1,000 square-feet
- Institutional — $134.79 per 1,000 square-feet
- Industrial — $76.38 per 1,000 square-feet
- Warehouse — $44.93 per 1,000 square-feet
Published August 18, 2021