Changes coming to Immokalee impact fees

Collier County Commissioners approved a measure 4-1 last week to fundamentally change the amortization of the impact fees as they exist in Immokalee.

The effort, led by Commissioner Bill McDaniel, will allow developers and future property owners the ability to pay impact fees over a course of 10, 20, or even 30 years rather than paying the fees upfront.

Traditionally, impact fees are intended to offset the costs related to growth that a new house or business has on the community. Impact fees generate revenue for community resources such as for new parks, libraries, improvements to fire protection, schools, road improvements, jail services, emergency medical services, law enforcement, and other government buildings.

Changing the way impact fees are collected has several benefits including lower costs for developers as well as a lower financial commitment on the front-end for new homeowners and business owners.

For example, a newly constructed single-family home with just 1,400 square feet of living space may cost the home builder and homeowner upwards of $22,000 in impact fees whereas a 2,000 square foot office building would yield roughly $20,000 in impact fees according to Collier County’s Impact Fee Administration.

Commissioner McDaniel hopes that by spreading those impact fees out over one to three decades, residential and commercial developers will see Immokalee as an attractive alternative to many of the communities west of Immokalee. “I want to get government out of the way” Commissioner McDaniel said. “I want to see Immokalee grow and I’m going to do everything I can get government out of the way.”

One concern that was raised was whether checks and balances will be in place to ensure developers actually reduce the price of each project to reflect the changes so that unsuspecting buyers aren’t stuck overpaying. Commissioner McDaniel said that County Commissioners will iron out those details of the program later this year prior to the program being implemented in October.

Because the impact fee revenue collected in Immokalee is minimal compared to revenue generated in other parts of the county, the change is only taking place in Immokalee and should have a minimal impact on the county’s overall impact fee revenue.

Commissioner McDaniel said that although the County has approved the proposed changes, the Immokalee Fire Control District and the Collier County Public School District would still have to review the proposed changes and determine if they want to follow the same impact fee collection plan.

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