Monday, December 29th, 2008 at 9:00am

Lady Lake Officials Just Don’t Understand

Posted by admin

$17,492 in impact fees and $2,046 in permit fees will be required if you want to build an “affordable” 1,500 square foot home in Lady Lake, Florida, starting this spring.  A basic home this size with a small lot should cost $120,000, at worst, but with these fees the cost escalates to well over $140,000.  For working people, you just destroyed a dream.  For an area that desperately needs employment, you just added to the unemployment lines.

The Daily Commercial editorial on Sunday, December 21, 2008, was wrong for giving the City of Lady Lake and its out-of-touch politicians cover for the fifth highest impact fee in the State of Florida, and one of the highest in the nation.  The editorial writer allowed Lady Lake’s officials to misrepresent the impact fee numbers by not including the county fees, which results in the $17,492 total.  Lagging infrastructure cannot be paid for by just new residents, since those facilities will serve all, and the situation goes back years – it’s a bogus argument.

Under the current Lady Lake criteria for applying impact fees, the same amount will be paid by someone who is building a $400,000 home versus a working person building an affordable home at $120,000.  It is a regressive tax that harms those who make less money, and thus is patently unfair.  Impact fees as applied by Lake County and the City of Lady Lake are a direct tax on working families because those are the people who ultimately pay them.

The real fallacy with impact fee policies in the area is that government tries the “one size fits all” approach, which greatly harms working people and senior citizens as they struggle to build dreams and secure housing.  It is understandable if a large builder-developer who wants to come into an area and build a 500-unit housing project has certain obligations to the area in regards to infrastructure, but the rules that govern him cannot govern a small builder or a do-it-yourself home builder.  The same rules can’t be applied to affordable housing and workforce housing because it is then impossible to meet the pricing target.  One size impact fee and housing policies do not fit and that is why they ultimately fail.

There is a total lack of understanding by the Lady Lake officials that without residential growth there would be no commercial growth, and that residential growth does pay for itself.  Would Sam’s Club have located in Lady Lake if there were no Villages?  Commercial development follows residential development because business must have customers if they have any chance of being successful.  Case in point is Wildwood, Florida.  Wildwood is located at the intersection of I-75 and the Florida Turnpike.  If location instead of population was the driving issue for commercial development, then this area should be booming; but, it is not at this point.  It will only boom with commercial investments and jobs when its population grows to support those businesses.  As The Villages expands toward Wildwood, see their fortunes expand exponentially, and just maybe they have the political leadership who can embrace change for the good of all working people.

Bill Vance, Lady Lake’s Town Manager, fails to understand the negative impact on jobs, as each house built represents a mini-factory employing hundreds of people.  No growth zealots must accept that a home being constructed is employing a lot of people who, at this point, need work.  Nothing is more important in Lake County right now as job creation.  Vance is quoted in this editorial that “New people come, new people contribute.”  If you make it so unaffordable for people to live in your town, then all of the commercial development you see will disappear and all you will be left with are empty buildings.  Don’t forget, there is not a business in America who cannot survive without growth because yearly costs go up.  Why do you think so many businesses go out of business during a recession like we are currently going through?

The article mentions their dramatic property tax increase, but says nothing about their out of control spending.  This action will only make the housing market worse.  The Commercial published an editorial on Friday opposing the impact fees in Lady Lake based on the huge negative economic impact, and they made a lot of great points, but most importantly they “got it”.  Right now, libraries and parks are not the top priorities of this area; jobs are.  Too bad Lady Lake officials don’t understand the gravity of their action.

Leave a Reply (No names necessary. If you put your name it will be published.)

© 2008 Right Side of the Lake: Lake County Florida's local government news source from Citizens for Better Government LLC.

The Right Side of the Lake