By Sharon Aron Baron
An impact fee bill co-sponsored by State Rep. Dan Daley, D-Coral Springs, was signed into law on June 4, favoring developers over municipalities.
As a former city commissioner, four-time Home Rule Hero with the Florida League of Cities, and former President of the Broward League, Rep. Daley was recognized for making extraordinary efforts to protect cities’ home rule authority. But House Bill 337 favors developers’ interests over the cities he used to protect.
Representing Coral Springs, Tamarac, Sunrise, and Plantation, Rep. Daley was a commissioner from 2012-2019 and served as the city’s vice-mayor. He is also the general counsel for 13th Floor Investments — a developer who buys golf courses and builds residential dwelling units on them.
While Rep. Daley isn’t shy about promoting his accomplishments, he didn’t tout this particular victory to his constituents.
As one of 11 co-sponsors of House Bill 337, and one of only two Democrats, the bill prevents impact fees from increasing more often than once every four years and caps increases at 50 percent.
The bill was approved 94-23 in the House and 28-12 in the Senate.
Included is an exception to the limits if cities have a dire need and meet certain legal criteria; however, the commission would need to hold at least two workshops and approve the increases by at least a two-thirds vote — or a supermajority vote of four when only a simple majority of three is currently needed to raise impact fees.
The new law will be imposed retroactively from January 1, 2021.
In Florida, developers are required to pay governmental bodies fees and costs to offset the impacts of their developments. These fees provide vital services such as schools, parks, roads, ambulance and fire service, water, and sewer hook-ups.
Impact fees are prevalent in low-tax states like Florida.
For example, when there are suddenly more cars on the road resulting from new construction, the developers traditionally are charged the cost of widening roadways, adding turn lanes, and paying for street lights and other infrastructure, among other things.
This new law conflicts with the home rule authority of cities. It imposes several new requirements for a municipality to collect impact fees from developers and limits impact fee increases to no more than once every four years.
Rep. Daley explained the bill doesn’t necessarily limit impact fees. “Just puts a reasonable cap on how quickly they can be raised and what those dollars can go to.”
These new requirements in Rep. Daley’s bill shift the costs and fees from the developers to the average working family because if the infrastructure required to mitigate the impact of a proposed development costs more than the impact fees collected, current property owners will pay the price.
The new law allows predictability in budgeting for the developers, he said.
“If a city raises an impact fee schedule by 100 percent, 300 percent, two or three years into a redevelopment project that’s not budgeted for, that’s where the cost gets passed on directly to the consumer. [With this bill] They’re able to budget for it.”
The changes will make it “virtually impossible for local governments to require that new development pays its own way,” 1000 Friends of Florida said in an email to supporters on Thursday.
“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 email said.
The Florida League of Cities, which annually recognizes city officials, such as Rep. Daley as Home Town Heroes, for making an extraordinary effort to protect cities’ home rule authority, opposed this bill.
State Rep. Christine Hunschofsky, and former mayor of Parkland, voted no on House Bill 337 because it ties a city’s hands to how much they can charge developers regardless of the impact from the proposed development.
“The City of Parkland contracted with a company who did a study — establishing impact fees is all data-driven,” she said. “[This bill] affects our parks, our libraries.”
According to Rep. Hunschofsky, “[this law] is not helpful to cities because it’s tying their hands as to how much they can charge developers for the impact development has on the city — development should pay for itself and this legislation limits a city’s ability to do this.”
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