Miami to consider revamped impact fees
By Deserae del Campo
Miami commissioners are to vote today (11/17) on new impact fees in the midst of booming residential development that would more than triple annual receipts and for the first time would include fees for single-family homes.
Fees for single-family homes would be $7,832. The fee for low-rises - including townhouses, duplexes and residential buildings with three to nine units - would rise to $6,890 per unit from $1,082.
Developers of 10 or more units would pay $4,547 for each. Currently, those fees are $915 per 1,300 square feet.
"I don't think that anyone likes the fee increases, but we hope that the city is flexible, fair and that they will listen if things are not working out and changes need to be made," said Truly Burton, government affairs director for the Builders Association of South Florida.
The proposed increases spring from a report by TischlerBise & Associates, which the city hired in July 2004 to study its impact fees, set in 1987. The firm's September report said "changes to the existing legislation were found to be required in order to better streamline the calculation and collection process."
TischlerBise projected fees - collected from a developer when the city issues a building permit - would rise from $2.4 million annually to $7.3 million.
"The impact fee is a set fee for builders and developers who place an impact, or stress, on the city and its residents," said Alicia Cuervo Schreiber, chief of operations in the city manager's office. "It is not a tax to city residents."
"The increased impact fees will only shave off people in need of living in affordable units," Ms. Burton said. "The city needs to focus on the market impact that right now no one can control - such as the price of land and the building materials that will affect the cost of condo and home prices."
Impact fees on residential construction would fund police and fire rescue and general services, but the bulk of the receipts would be steered to parks.
"It should be a matter of practice that our impact fees be reviewed every couple of years," said Commissioner Johnny Winton. "But that was the old Miami, and now the parks impact fee is receiving a bulk of the money that will change the future of Miami."
The Virginia Key and Coconut Grove Waterfront master plans are related to an overall parks master plan created to improve green space and require more parkland in the city.
Now that the proposed impact fees, which would raise an estimated $7.3 million a year, are ready for commissioners' first reading, Alicia Schreiber, chief of operations in the city manager's office, said she has placed officials on notice that the impact fees should be revisited every year. A majority vote on a second reading of the fee ordinance would make it law, to take effect 30 days later.
The portion of the fees used for parks and greenery would be enough to create 11.2 acres of parks within five years, according to a memo Ms. Schreiber wrote to officials.
"The goal is to help create more green space that is accessible and compatible to the public realm," Ms. Schreiber said. "Miami 21, the proposed streetcar project, the parks master plan - these are all little tools that when glued together will make this a world-class city."
The city is in the process of revisiting its comprehensive plan, highlighting its goals, objectives and policies for the future. By state statute, the city must review the comprehensive plan every seven years and issue an evaluation and appraisal report that reviews policies and determines if changes are needed.
Changes from the comprehensive plan the city is to submit to the state include a rewrite of the zoning code, a parks master plan and the impact-fee ordinance.