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Port St. Lucie considering development impact fees to compensate for growth

Proposed fees for commercial properties would jump from $56 to $887 per 1,000 square feet, study says
Posted at 7:01 PM, Mar 15, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-15 19:01:01-04

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — It’s no secret that Port St. Lucie is growing, and fast. Now, the city has to figure out how that growth will be paid for, so it doesn’t become a financial burden to taxpayers.

The city is looking at its impact fees for a possible solution.

There is new construction, both residential and commercial, in many parts of the city.

But growth has a price tag.

The city hired an outside agency to look at where more money can be raised through development impact fees.

It focused on a number of areas including fees for parks and recreation, and law enforcement.

We’ve seen the push to hire and fill vacancies in the police department and recently, WPTV asked mayor Shannon Martin about their need to expand west.

“We know we need more officers, and this area is booming. So, we’re planning for District 5 to add 36 officers to this area by the end of next year,” the mayor told WPTV’s Jon Shainman a few weeks ago.

According to the impact fee study, proposed law enforcement impact fees for single-family homes would go up from $205 to $421 dollars. Multi-family homes would rise from $167 to $275.

The biggest jump would be fees for commercial properties from $56 to $887 per 1,000 square feet.

Parks and recreation impact fees for residential units would also soar under the proposal for single family units from $782 to $3,141 and multi-family units from $636 to $2,054, but there would be no increase for commercial properties.

City planning and zoning is hosting two “extraordinary circumstances public workshops” Wednesday, because the proposed increases in some cases would be greater than the 50% allowed by state law over a 4-year period.

Why is it so important to make sure that development pays a fair share?

Because, according to the authors of the impact fee study, without changes, the city would have to figure out a way to make up $39 million over the next four years without impacting taxpayers.

Pete Tesch, the president of the Economic Development Council of St. Lucie County, said more than 60 projects bringing 5,000 jobs to the area have taken shape.

He said it’s early to make a declarative policy statement regarding impact fees, but is wary if the price of entry to do business gets too high.

“This is a balancing act. Obviously, we want our community to be cost competitive for new business and expanding businesses to grow and thrive,” Tesch said. “But we realize that our local governments have to provide quality services.”

Again, these are just proposed fees that would impact developers and builders, and not the taxpayer at this point.

The issue will go before city council at the end of March and again in April.

Any impact fee changes approved would take effect July 1.