By a vote of 5-0, Pasco County's Board of County Commissioners recently voted to replace the county's current transportation impact fee with a new mobility fee, covering costs of transportation infrastructure in the area.
"The old system doesn't work well anymore because margins are thinner, it's tougher to get financing, and, really, it just became a huge cost," says John Hagen, president and CEO of the Pasco Economic Development Council (PEDC). "The commissioners have been thinking about this in context of what we're trying to do here in Pasco, in general, which is to get more competitive. The whole point of the new fee is to do two things: create jobs and redirect growth in a way that's healthier for the county."
Under Florida state law, Pasco is the first county in Florida to adopt a mobility fee to replace its current impact fee. In addition to funding roadways, the fee extends itself to mass transit, sidewalks and trails while directing growth away from the undeveloped areas of the county and toward planned urban service areas.
"We [the county and the PEDC] have been working on this since 2008, trying to lower fees, streamline the county's regulations and make permitting easier," says Hagen. "We're really trying to make more of a business-friendly atmosphere here in Pasco and it's starting to pay off."
Unlike other local governments in Florida, the development of Pasco County's unique approach allows the mobility fee to be used as an economic development tool: concentrating the fees of office, industrial and hotel development.
"The idea is to keep the growth in the urban areas, keeping the rural areas rural. If we try to move people in a specific direction, it helps preserve green areas while concentrating growth so cheaper public services can be offered-- residents are getting a twofold benefit," says Hagen. "By putting an incentive on certain types of development, we're really upping the ante and I think it's going to make Pasco terrifically competitive in the Tampa Bay area, as well as the southeastern United States."
Along with PEDC, Pasco County's new mobility fee has been endorsed by the Tampa Bay Builders Association (TBBA), the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority (TBARTA), the Center for Urban Transportation Research (CUTR) and the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT).
Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: John Hagen, Pasco Economic Development Council