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Collection of impact fees rising with development in Gainesville
City of Gainesville Administrative Building1.jpg

The demand on public services has risen along with the record number of construction permits issued in Gainesville over the last few years.

“When we have people move to our area, it puts stress on things like parks, libraries, police …” City Councilman Sam Couvillon said.

The silver lining, city officials said, is impact fees.

The City Council received a report last week on the amount of revenue generated by these fees, which are charged on new development, in the last fiscal year, July 2016 to June 2017.

This money helps offset project costs as the city expands services to a growing population.

The city collected $1.2 million in that timeframe, adding to the nearly $1.5 million sitting in reserve.

“Obviously, we are seeing an upward trend in the collection of those fees,” Councilman George Wangemann said.

Impact fee revenue is primarily used to fund capital projects for libraries, parks and public safety.

For example, about $1 million was allocated to parks and recreation services with the impact fee revenue collected in the last fiscal year.

More than $1 million was collected for parks and $525,000 spent on projects.

Projects that have benefited in whole or in part from impact fee revenue include ongoing renovations at Desota Park in the Newtown neighborhood, which received 45 percent of its $225,000 budget from the revenue.

Maintenance and expansion of the Midtown Greenway trail system and Linwood Nature Preserve have also received significant funding from the revenue.

Meanwhile, the fire department received $126,000 in impact fee revenue in the last fiscal year and the police department received $69,000.

Projects supported by this revenue include a police training facility, and the purchase of a ladder truck for the fire department.

Wangemann said he believes impact fees help keep property taxes down for those “who have been here a number of years.”

But there is a balance to be struck when setting the fees, he added, as new development continues to emerge across the city.

Couvillon said it’s important for the city to consider how impact fees are “currently set up” and whether they need to be adjusted.

“… It is getting more and more expensive to keep the services at the level our citizens expect to have them,” he said. 

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