Impact fees likely rising in Port St. Lucie to combat population growth
by Dylan Huberman, CBS12 News, March 16 2023
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (CBS12) — The population in the City of Port St. Lucie has grown exponentially in recent years.
So too has the strain on necessary resources for the area.
There’s a shortage of first responders, excessive traffic on local roads and development projects around every corner.
“I’ve seen more houses built, more people, more traffic,” said Prize Jean, who has lived in Port St. Lucie for six years, “but I don’t get more services.”
Those resources are paid for not only through taxpayer dollars but also with impact fees when you first build a home or business in city.
Now, the city is working to make sure the cost of the population growth doesn't end up falling on taxpayers. That’s where higher impact fees would come in.
According to a study done by consulting firm TischlerBise, the recommendation is to increase impact fees over the next four years in the city to deal with the growth.
The current impact fee rate to develop single family units is about $1,400 - that would end up around $4,000 if these changes are implemented.
If the city doesn't make any changes, officials would have to find a way to come up with nearly $40 million dollars over the next four years - without impacting taxpayers.
“What’s critical about impact fees is they’re covering the cost of new development, and that’s not being shifted onto the taxpayers,” explained Nate Spera, the Chief of the St. Lucie County Fire District.
People seeking to develop new land in the city would have to pay exponentially more for public resources as costs - and calls - have risen. That's especially noticeable when it comes to emergency responders.
“Five years ago, a fire engine cost $425,000, they’re well over $650,000. The unit behind me was $750-800,000 when we bought it," Chief Spera showed. "They’re $1.1 million now. The number of calls has just gone up exponentially.”
Commercial projects would also jump from $56 to $887 per 1,000 square feet, which could deter some developers.
“There definitely has to be a balance so that it’s affordable for companies to come here and so that we can pay for our services that people who live here deserve,” said Maureen Saltzer, the Director of Communications & Outreach for the Economic Development Council of St. Lucie County.
The city council will discuss this issue at the end of the month and again in April. Any fee changes would begin on July 1st.