By Michael Eng | Managing Editor
City leaders continued their push to spur development as they approved a moratorium on transportation mobility fees June 25.
The moratorium began July 1 and will continue through Sept. 30, 2013. It also extends the discount to certain building permits until Sept. 30, 2015.Mobility fees are charged to developers and property owners to help pay for the transportation costs the growth creates. However, during the downturn in the economy, many Florida counties have suspended or reduced these fees — including neighboring Polk County, said City Manager Greg Horwedel. He hopes the moratorium will help attract business and development to Plant City.
“Of the 67 counties in Florida, only 14 are not doing anything with impact fees,” Horwedel said.
The mobility fee raised about $32,000 in the 2010-11 fiscal year. So far this year, the city collected $90,000, the majority of which is attributed to several large projects, including Brandon Regional Hospital’s $2.5 million emergency care center in Plant City.
Plant City adopted its transportation mobility fee structure to replace impact fees in 2009. Under the new structure, the city is divided into five zones, and fees collected within those zones are used to improve roads directly impacted by the development.
In addition, Horwedel said the moratorium will give Plant City staff an opportunity to work with neighboring Hillsborough County, which is considering its own mobility fee.
The City Commission is considering adding to the November ballot a change that would eliminate special elections when a city commissioner leaves with less than 15 months in his or her term.
The call for a change came following Commissioner Dan Raulerson’s campaign for the Florida House of Representatives District 58 seat.
Under the existing charter, when Raulerson leaves the commission in November, the remaining commissioners would appoint an interim commissioner to serve until a special election in January. That candidate then would have to run a second campaign in April 2013 for a new term to begin in June, when Raulerson’s term expires.
A special election costs the city $15,000, and should the election require a run-off, that number would double, said City Attorney Ken Buchman.
The revision would allow the commission to appoint an interim commissioner until the end of the term, eliminating the need for a special election.
The commission agreed to discuss the change further at its July 9 meeting.
HART line may be eliminated
City commissioners decided not to take a stance on the proposed elimination of Hillsborough Area Regional Transit’s 28X East County Express route from Plant City to Tampa.
Commissioner Rick Lott, who represents Plant City on the Hillsborough County Metropolitan Planning Organization, said he received a petition signed by about 70 residents requesting the route remain.
However, Mayor Michael Sparkman noted Plant City voters did not support HART’s 2010 1-cent sales tax referendum, and thus, the city does not contribute to HART financially.
HART will host a public hearing from noon to 2 p.m. and 4 to 6 p.m. July 10, at HART Administrative Office, Florida Conference Room, 1201 E. Seventh Ave., Tampa.
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