By Chip Ross
Fernandina Beach City Commissioner
January 11, 2019 10:00 a.m.
Large expenditures generally capture the interest of most City residents. And without exception, the expenditure of millions of dollars of impact fees will likely cause great discussion in the next few months. From my perspective, starting a conversation using the same knowledge-base of facts before delving into expenditure discussions of City Impact Fees is generally helpful. So I would like to explain to the public, in general, some salient information before the social media blitz and coffee clutches begin these discussions.
Here are some basic facts. Impact fees are fees collected from new construction only. They are not part of your real estate tax bill, they are one-time fees. They are collected to provide funding for additional facilities for the additional growth added to the City. Impact fees must be spent within 6 years, otherwise they are to be returned to the payer.
At present, approximately $2.3 million sits in the City’s Parks and Recreation Capital Expansion Fund (310) (impact fee fund). Another $1.3 million is projected by staff to be added to that fund by the end of the current fiscal year with another $1.46 million added in the following year. Parks and Recreation impact fee receipts may ONLY be used for park and recreation capital improvements – new construction and/or land acquisition for the expansion or creation of parks.
Upon review of the City’s 2020 Vision Plan, previous budgets, and the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee meeting minutes, multiple projects have been proposed, often funded, but never built. Those projects include
- Playgrounds at the soccer fields;
- The second half of the Main Beach board walk;
- Acquiring additional land to build a downtown waterfront park;
- Building a downtown waterfront park;
- Building beach walk overs at the beach accesses that do not have walk overs;
- A columbarium (urn burial building) at Bosque Bello Cemetery;
- Fully funding the Simmons Road Park even if the $200,000 grant is not obtained;
- Improvements at the Richio (Peck) Field that include restrooms, a walking path, and a larger pavilion; and
- Utilizing the recently proposed impact fee increases to fund park land acquisition to expand the Greenway and create passive parks.
The topic of the Five-Year Capital Improvements for the City is a discussion item at the next City Commission meeting on January 15, 2019. And it will also be discussed again at the City Commission Visioning Session on January 29, 2019.
Funding is available to build many of the above projects that have been talked about for many years. I welcome any input on impact fee expenditures. Your City Commissioners need to hear from you.
Please direct your suggestions concerning this piece to my email address: Commissioner Chip Ross at [email protected] or any other City Commissioner.
Below is a spread sheet which proposes how the above, previously discussed projects, could be funded now and built in the next 2 years. I look forward to your input. Let’s use our funds and build our projects!