During Tuesday’s Manatee County Commission meeting, a significant decision was made to pave the way for increasing impact fees to the highest allowable amount, marking the first time in over a dozen years that such a measure has been passed.
The discussion, which was the final agenda item, turned out to be the day’s highlight. County Administrator Charlie Bishop, along with key county staff, raised concerns about a proposed impact fee study. Commissioned in 2019, the study led them to express concerns that changes in market conditions do not reflect today’s costs
Impact fees are one-time charges applied to new construction in the unincorporated areas of Manatee County. They are meant to ensure that new developments contribute to the capital costs incurred by the County for maintaining infrastructure capacity.
A new study, suggested by staff at the meeting, aims to more accurately reflect current housing and building market conditions. However, Commissioner Ray Turner of District 5 (Lakewood Ranch) voiced concerns about the delay that starting a new study could cause, urging the commission not to ‘kick the can down the road waiting for a whole new study.”
Despite frustrations with the quality of the proposed existing study, the Commissioners agreed to start the process of increasing impact fees to the maximum amount, based on the current fee structure.
Commissioner Mike Rahn of District 4 (South County) proposed the motion, which received strong support, although multiple votes are still required for the final adoption of the increase.
Commission Chair Kevin Van Ostenbridge of District 3 (West Bradenton), who seconded the motion, emphasized a need for accountability telling the Manatee Herald, “This board needs to hold developers accountable for the increasing cost of infrastructure in Manatee County. We need to use all the tools at our disposal to make that happen.”
Commissioner James Satcher of District 1 (Parrish) also supported the motion, stating, “I’m happy to support the motion and increase impact fees to the highest possible level.”
This is the first instance in over ten years where Manatee County has set impact fees at their maximum allowed limit.
County Administrator Charlie Bishop informed the Commissioners that he has already begun research for consultants and will expedite bringing an updated study back to the board.