A proposal by Indian Rocks Republican Rep. Nick DiCeglie to add restrictions on how local governments can use impact fees is moving to its second committee.
The bill (HB 337) was approved in a 13-5 mostly party line vote Monday in the House Local Administration and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee. Democratic Rep. Dan Daley sided with Republicans in support of the bill.
The bill would narrow regulations on impact fees, which local governments impose on new developments to cover costs for public facilities necessitated by new growth.
The bill sets would require fees increased 25% above the current rate to be implemented in two equal annual increments. If a fee is increased between 25% and 50% above the current rate, developers would be allowed to pay over four equal installments.
The legislation would also prohibit impact fees from exceeding a 50% increase above the current rate, and an impact fee would not be allowed to increase more than once every four years.
Exceptions are provided under the legislation if a local government, school district or special district establishes the need for the increased impact fee pursuant to the rational nexus test.
The legislation also defines what impact fees can be used for. Under the bill, impact fees can be used for emergency medical, fire and law enforcement public facilities, as well as infrastructure, which the bill defines as “related construction costs required to bring the public facility into service.”
The definition of infrastructure under the bill caused Democrats to dissent, despite supporting its overall intention.
Rep. Dotie Joseph said while she supports the bill defining what impact fees can be used for, she would prefer the language be expanded to encompass more services, like police cars or public libraries, rather than just buildings and emergency facilities. The Florida League of Cities and the Florida Association of Counties, who opposed the bill, shared that concern.
“While your bill allows for the structure to be funded by these fees, it doesn’t currently allow for some of those other things to be funded,” Joseph said. “So if you could tweak those things, I ultimately look forward to working with my caucus to be in favor of full support of the bill.”
Other Democrats agreed with Joseph, and DiCeglie closed by saying he would be willing to look into expanding the definitions, and ultimately looks forward to bipartisan support for the bill.
“As this bill moves through the process, I’m very open to having conversations to include police cars, emergency vehicles in the definition of infrastructure. I think that’s very important,” DiCeglie said.
Committee Chair Rep. Jackie Toledo praised DiCeglie for bringing forward the bill, referencing increasing impact fees in her home district of Hillsborough County.
“This is very necessary, because of the abuses we’ve seen in certain counties. In Hillsborough County, we went from $9,000 to $25,000, and because of this bill, they want to raise an additional $3,000,” Toledo said. “Defining [infrastructure], holding them accountable and making sure that the money goes where it’s intended to go is absolutely necessary.”
The bill is now onto its second of three committee stops. Sen. Joe Gruters filed the Senate version of the bill (SB 750). It has three committee assignments, and is awaiting its first hearing.