DeLand, FL – Expect Volusia County to do some serious public outreach soon about impact fees, the very topic which derailed the county’s plans to bring a half-cent sales tax referendum in front of the voters this November.
A presentation during today’s (October 2nd) meeting in DeLand went over the latest study version from Duncan & Associates, the same group whose 2016 study didn’t become public until shortly before then-Volusia County Manager Jim Dinneen left his post earlier this year. Click here, here and here for more details.
County officials asked the Volusia County Council to allow them to schedule a series of public meeting across the county, with the goal of explaining to the public how the fees worked and what options are available. The meetings would also gather public comments – including those from local chambers and other business-oriented groups – and bring them back to the VCC in a future meeting.
While speaking to the council, Clancy Mullen of Duncan & Associates says the 2016 study never went to the council because it hadn’t been vetted well enough to do that.
“This was a preliminary draft,” Mullen added. “It hadn’t been thoroughly vetted by staff. We hadn’t completed our quality control for this to be, really, ready for prime time.”
Opponents of the sales tax push – one designed to pay for road improvements and other kinds of infrastructure projects – have argued that Dinneen held that study back from the council on purpose so that impact fees wouldn’t be raised, forcing real estate developers to pay more for those improvements.
Some have implied that VCC members were opposed to such increases because of how much those developers were pouring into their campaign coffers.
Two of the members which have taken the most heat on that front – Chair Ed Kelley and District 1’s Pat Patterson – were in favor of those meetings, with both pointing out that they felt it would be best explained to the public like that instead of through the media.
Both also insisted that raising impact fees just by themselves wouldn’t solve the county’s infrastructure issues, but Kelley did say that he felt it was likely that some fee increases would be needed.