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Impact fee limits land on DeSantis’ desk

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File photo (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A bill sent Thursday to Gov. Ron DeSantis would limit local impact fees imposed on builders and developers to help pay for infrastructure to handle growth.

DeSantis will have until June 18 to act on the bill (HB 337), which would prevent local governments from increasing impact fees more than once every four years and would limit the increases to 50%. If an increase is between 25% and 50%, it would have to be spread over four years. Smaller increases would be phased in over two years.

As he debated the bill April 22, Senate sponsor Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota, pointed to increases in impact fees that exceeded 150% in Orange County and 80 percent in Hillsborough County.

“This bill is all about predictability, to make sure that people can plan and go through a project and understand exactly what the cost is going to be,” Gruters said at the time. “When you have these types of massive increases, it hurts everybody. We hope that local governments can plan accordingly.”

The bill was approved 94-23 in the House and 28-12 in the Senate.

The growth-management organization 1000 Friends of Florida has called for DeSantis to veto the bill, saying it would make it “virtually impossible for local governments to require that new development pays its own way. Existing residents will shoulder even more of the costs associated with new development through raised taxes, declining roads, parks and other public infrastructure, or both.”

The bill would allow local governments to exceed the limits but would require a study showing “the extraordinary circumstances requiring the additional increase.”

Also, the local governments would have to hold at least two workshops and approve the increases by at least a two-thirds vote.

The impact-fee measure was one of 27 bills that the Legislature sent to DeSantis on Thursday, according to his office. The bills were passed during the legislative session that ended April 30.