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Guest Commentary

An Impact Fee Reminder

"Like-minded" advisory board perplexed


This Thursday, the Board of County Commissioners will have our first of two public hearings to finalize the future of our impact fees. These fees have been a source of contention with the public as they are massively under-collected. Your lack of infrastructure, parks, and schools is a direct reflection of this shortfall. In the future, your potential for further deficiencies in infrastructure, along with higher taxes to fund those needs not paid by impact fees, will be all too real.

Before Thursday, I wanted to summarize how we got here by reposting two of my past Substacks on this issue.

The Subtle Art of Deception: Developers will now pay 100%...of 44% of the actual costs
The Subtle Art of...the Pivot: When Impact Fee Deception Gets Caught

The reason this decision is so important is because the State Legislature decided that no county, regardless of shortfall or growth rate, can increase their impact fees more than once every four years. Therefore, this decision made in 2024 will be felt for almost half a decade, regardless of election outcomes.

But it didn’t have to be this way and it still doesn’t. A simple process would allow the Board to increase fees to the full extent of the Impact Fee Study and enforce that full increase immediately. All we needed was a supermajority vote and a “demonstrated needs study”. While it’s been implied that a full increase could “open up a lawsuit”, that is not a credible risk. Multiple other high-growth counties have used their impact fee study as a show of demonstrated need and were successful in increasing well above the state limit.

People can file a lawsuit against us for any reason. It doesn’t mean they’ll be successful. We were sued twice for our best-in-class wetland buffers. That developer lost twice, and the county was able to retain its buffers. Until “favorable” changes were made via board vote rather than judge ruling. And that’s just what we’re seeing here.

What makes this so frustrating is that even “like-minded” Planning Commission advisory board members are confused by the majority of the Board’s decision. Not only does this decision affect your impact fees, but it carries over to the School Board collections, thus minimizing the fees which can be used to build future schools to ease our over-capacity issues for your kids and grandkids.

The Planning Commission met on Thursday, May 30, to hear the final impact fee determination for the first time. The video of this presentation and discussion is below.

Their dialogue and questioning showed us what a well-functioning board can look like. A Board focused on getting answers, not justifying a narrative and a pre-scripted outcome. A Board looking out for Manatee County, not for their campaign fundraising. A Board willing to open up discussion, not shut down conversation by calling the question and going off on rants about how impact fees are somehow “liberal” or “unconstitutional”.

The Bradenton Times made similar insights this weekend:

The idiocy of our Banana Republicans was on full display again in Thursday’s planning commission meeting, when planning commissioners asked all of the questions residents expected county commissioners to ask when Van Ostenbridge put forth his plan to make his developer buddies pay their fair share on impact fees. As I wrote in this column, in actuality, it was nothing short of a big wet kiss to his developer sugar daddies, but the planning commission gives an idea of what the BOCC meeting would have looked like, were the board not, in James Sather’s words, “kind of on a string up here.”

This Thursday starts the process of under-collecting impact fees and under-developing your infrastructure for the foreseeable future. You have this week to let the Board know you’d like a reconsideration. Or you can stop by Thursday morning.

There IS a chance. One incumbent is already sending out mailers touting how he is leading the way in “making developers pay their fair share.” That sounds good to me, it sounds good to the Planning Commission, and I’m sure it sounds good to you.

I just don’t think our definition of fair share is “like-minded” with this particular commissioner.

This article was originally posted in Commissioner Kruse's blog, For Lack of a Second. Click here to subscribe.


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  • WTF

    The taxpayers will end up paying the difference of these costs without any benefit to the taxpayers. Unjust taxation without representation. Developers will and have always been laughing all the way to the bank while the middle class struggles with paying taxes for development that has no bearing on taxpayers’ quality of life, if fact makes it worse with traffic jams, air pollution and more.

    The County hires outside professions that say a 100% impact fee is not only fair but will reduce the burden on regular taxpayers that receive no benefit. Do they listen, of course not. **** away taxpayers’ monies for a professional report only to toss it aside for the benefit of developers.

    This puppet developer board with the exception of George Kruze is the worst BOCC I have seen in decades.

    Vote these clowns out in the primary and general elections.

    Wednesday, June 5 Report this

  • N_Alice_Newlon

    There are some commissioners running for office that are going to claim they are tough of developers. They can say, rightly, that NOW they are raising impact fees to the maximum the state will allow per year, but they will ignore in their mailers and campaign social media the last 8 years of DELIBERATE no action. There have been multiple studies done to say what the impact fees should be, followed by inaction. In the mean time house after house is build paying half or less for what it will cost to put in supporting infrastucture,

    Manatee so behind that even if they approve the maximum increase the state will allow per year, and especially factoring in inflation, it will take virtually forever and possibly never get to get to the 100% the impact fees it should be. The county taxpayers will continue to lose millions and millions and millions every year because commissioner inaction.

    Wednesday, June 5 Report this