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Saturday, Oct, 25, 2014
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Island officials blast county impact fee proposal

"We've been blind-sided," said Anna Maria Mayor SueLynn after she attended what she thought was a workshop on Nov. 10 with county commissioners to discuss a proposed county impact fee on new construction within any of the county's six municipalities.

Instead of a frank discussion with county commissioners on the issue, the mayor and other elected officials got a "fait accompli," she said.

"Everything we got at the meeting is that this is a done deal," said SueLynn.

"And only two county commissioners showed up. It was a discussion with county staff and their consultant. We thought this was to get our input, but everything we got said this deal is going through."

The county commission has proposed an impact fee on new construction within any of the county's six municipalities that would total about $2,500 initially for a three-bedroom home and eventually increase to more than $3,000 for such construction. The county already imposes an impact fee on new construction in unincorporated areas.

"And this fee would still be all for the county," said the mayor. "There's nothing in it for Anna Maria. None of the money would come back to us."

The mayor said the obvious perception is that the county's proposal is a means to impose an impact fee on the Arvida-Perico Island condominium project, which calls for 898 units to be built, all within the Bradenton city limits.

In the absence of a county impact fee, Arvida would only pay the City of Bradenton's current impact fee.

"I don't disagree that this seems to be targeting Arvida, but we are getting caught in the middle," she said.

County Commissioners Joe McClash and Jane von Hahmann, however, have denied that the proposed impact fee is aimed at Arvida.

Holmes Beach Mayor Carol Whitmore said she and City Commission Chairperson Rich Bohnenberger agreed there was no need to attend the Nov. 10 meeting because it was a staff meeting, not a frank discussion with county commissioners.

"We sent the county commission a letter saying we will meet with them, not staff members," Whitmore said.

Apparently, that letter and input from municipal elected officials at the Nov. 10 meeting had the desired effect.

County Commissioner Johnathan Bruce said he would set up a workshop for county commissioners and city elected officials within the next few weeks before moving forward with plans to adopt the impact fee.

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