Clay County commissioners unanimously approve new impact fee for development projects

Julie Morgan
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A new impact fee passed unanimously, 5-0, at Tuesday night’s Clay County Board of County Commissioners meeting. The board decided that the new fee will start June 1, 2023, instead of allowing for the standard 90-day period to go into effect.

Impact fees are one-time fees imposed on new development projects to fund the facilities that will serve those projects.

The proposed impact fees are broken down into six categories:

  • Government, jails, and constitutional facilities
  • Fire and rescue facilities
  • Law enforcement
  • Community and neighborhood parks
  • Regional park
  • Library and cultural facilities

The impact fee is expected to generate $121 million over the next 22 years.

The hour-and-a-half-long discussion included a presentation, public comment, and the commissioner’s comments.

Seven people took advantage of the public comment period, including developers and a county resident.

There was one comment that seemed to gnaw at commissioners. David Vallencourt of Vallencourt Construction said the board tried to hide the fact that they had proposed impact fees.

Vallencourt said he would’ve “rallied troops” much sooner if the topic had passed through the planning committee. He accused the board of trying to pass a “massive tax increase” without anyone knowing.

Vallencourt said the ordinance still needed a lot of work, despite the changes that were made since the initial version presented at the end of October.

Commissioner Kristen Burke said she took “great offense” to his comment.

“I’m not sure hidden is appropriate,” said Commissioner Jim Renninger, after mentioning the number of meetings where the topic had been discussed.

“We operate in the sunshine,” said Commissioner Mike Cella, referring to the sunshine law that requires state, county, and municipal governments to conduct business in the open.

One Clay County resident asked the board to “take the individual” into consideration. Melanie Randall expressed her concern that the fees would be passed along to the homeowner, making it a lot more challenging to afford a new home. “This will have a huge impact on people who have worked hard, individuals, to try to buy a house.”

In addition, the board opted not to take a phased approach to the fees, something the developers had wanted.

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