Thursday, November 29th, 2012 at 10:09am

Impact Fees or Growth? That is the Real Question!

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The Lake County Board of County Commissioners has started holding workshops on next year’s budget; and, it is pretty clear, especially with the re-election of Barack Obama, things are going to be very tight.  These five conservative Republican Commissioners are floating the idea that impact fees may have to be phased in to help cover the county’s budget shortfalls.

Just like the class warfare tactics of the current President, the argument is “growth does not pay for itself” which insinuates that new homes and businesses do not.  It is like saying, “the rich must pay their fair share” so often said that soon it is believed, and reality has become perverted, when the rich actually pay the majority of the taxes.

First and foremost, growth pays for itself.  The reason why Lake County is in this financial mess is because there is no growth.  It is an economic lie of the highest proportion to suggest anything else.  If Lake County wants better economic times and a higher quality of life, it must grow to a level of prosperity.  Following the path of the federal government by raising taxes and fees is a recipe for economic ruin.

The other myth is that business is good–wrong, it has gone from awful to terrible.  Look at some real numbers and tell us how good you think it is:

  1. In 2001 and 2002, before the economic boom, Lake County’s unemployment was 5.5% and as of October this year the unemployment rate is 8.4%.  That is a 52% increase.
  2. During 2001 and 2002, Lake County permitted 8,126 homes or a yearly average of 4,036.  Understand this is before the housing boom.  In 2012, Lake County is trending to permit only 769 homes–that is a whopping 81% decline in construction.
  3. Currently, the average home price in Lake County is $132,315, which is at the pre-boom levels of 2003.  Houses are not going to appraise above that number; and, because of inflation, most builders cannot build a home that cheap.  If impact fees are added to construction how can anyone ever expect to get a house financed?

Then there are the anecdotal signs.  For every new business opening in Lake County, two businesses are probably closing.  Just take a ride down the primary corridors and gaze into the vacant store fronts and abandoned businesses.  Then look at the great business expansion in Tavares.  This would not have occurred if impact fees were still in place.  There is evidence right here in Lake County, which shows how impact fees are business killers–look at the economic decay of Mount Dora compared to Tavares.

Finally, Lake County leaders should understand that they are competing with counties just across the state border that do not have impact fees and have only one third of the odious regulations of Florida.  Businesses and manufacturers across America have figured out that consolidating operations to a hub location is far more cost effective than actual brick and mortar facilities.  Trucks run from South Georgia into Florida daily, and trying to sell a new business on locating to Lake County with impact fees will almost be impossible.

Instead of considering impact fees and raising taxes, these Commissioners should be focused on deregulating the county and reducing fees.  The cities and counties that will win over the next four years are the ones who are not going to follow the herd over the fiscal cliff.  Winners will be defined by those who focus on growth and expansion.

Finally, as we have stated many times, a fee is a tax, and it is going to be interesting to see who breaks their promise of not raising taxes.  Unfortunately, there will be some Commissioners branded as Certified Tax Raisers because they will not have the courage or will to make hard decisions.  This county needs growth and jobs now, and impact fees will do nothing but destroy them.

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7 Responses to “Impact Fees or Growth? That is the Real Question!”

  1. It is apparent that you have way too much time on your hands and that the only thing you have in your life is your computer. Im beginning to think you sleep with it at night. I decided to google your name so I could see what pops up. It is apparent that you comment on every blog on the internet that has to do with politics. You obviously think that you are the Republican spokesperson for everyone. I have news for you, you don’t speak for me. In fact, I dont even know how you call yourself a Republican considering some of the people you endorse. For example, Gary Borders ( a democrat in Republican clothing). Do you support his gay lifestyle? Do you like his wasteful spending, especially giving his boyfriend a 10% raise when he only gave others a 5% raise. Maybe you like going around bashing people, how would you like it if I started asking why your father married a woman 35 years younger than him. Public records are such a great source of information. See how easy it is to find out information on you. Im sure I could dig up more and find out things you really wouldnt want on the internet. Most of the blogs you respond to, the bloggers think you are an idiot. When will you realize that sometimes it is better to keep your mouth shut than open. Also since you support Borders, I think you need to do your homework better. The man cant even admit he is gay, what does that say about him (HE IS A LIAR). I for one do not think the Sheriff of Lake County should be unethical, but obviously you do. Maybe that is a trait you admire, maybe you are in the closet..who knows, but one thing for sure is that a lot of people think you are an idiot. You dont seem to have a lot of friends according to your Facebook page either. 60 something friends is a pretty sad number considering you think you are someone of importance. Why dont you enjoy retirement and take up a hobby, like golf or fishing because blogging and politics are definitely not for you. You couldnt even win an election! See Im not being very nice but what goes around comes around, so maybe you should think before you blog. Also if you are going to endorse someone, you better make sure they are of caliber. Dirty little secrets have a way of coming out and if you are associated with that person, it usually means you are participating in that dirt. There is a saying, Surround yourself with people who will bring you up not down. Im sure you got excited as soon as you saw your name as a topic. Just know this, I just wanted to let you know that I like to research my people before I talk about them…maybe you should do the same!!!!

  2. Richard Riker’s comments about ” the new courthouse wasn’t built because a politician wanted to spend money, it was a state “mandate” that it be built because of the amount of cases being heard in Lake County courts.”

    So we guess this :mandate” on our new courthouse must have come from those who built the “Taj Mahal courthouse” little “rinky dink $50 Million worth!

    If ” it was a state “mandate”” to build this courthouse why did we have the night time meeting and try to cut the $95 Million expansion down to $50 Million? (Which is considered an obnoxious amount for a courthouse in Tallahassee.) Remember even Lauren Ritchie wanted to know what that 1600 square feet in the judges chambers was for!

    Why did Brad King stand before the LCBCC and threaten to make everyone come to his New Ocala Offices if they didn’t build him what he wanted?

    Richard Riker, you are nothing more than a blowhard. You say it’s “RSOLs fault for disseminating erroneous information in the first place and never bothering to correct that information.” the fact is in todays world website’s like the Right Side are the only places real people can find the truth. Do they make a mistake sometimes? Absolutely! Richard Riker is the only perfect person in the world. He knows everything. He is a “legend in his own mind” and if you don’t believe that just ask him! The truth is the people of Lake County owe the RSOL a huge thank you for allowing the truth to be aired on this website. Many other anti-corruption websites have sprung up locally all the way from South Florida to Tallahassee and the panhandle. If the local socialist media would tell the truth these folks would not have to waste their money or spend their time to get the truth to the real people who care about the future of their families, their city, county, state and national goverments – Our last elecetion has proved beyond a doubt this country is full of ignorant fools with their hands out. That’s what breds people like Riker – a person with their hand out always looking for something free will sell their soul for a nickel off a dead man’s eye. As this year comes to an end the pesky anonymous bloggers wish to thank the Right side of the Lake for their committment to bring the truth to the people of Lake County. We are sure this is not an easy task as the powers that be fight hard to keep the truth hid. They can be mighty vindictive when their crimes are aired.

    But, simply telling and allowing the truth to be told in the form of blogs about the goings on in Lake County to come to the surface in such a magnitude serves the people that everyone including local, state and federal law enforcement has turned their heads to real criminal investigations and prosecutions of those well connected politicians and bureaucrats. For proof of this statement all one has to do is look at the way the Lake Sheriff’s Office has handled the recent Fruitland Park City Manager debacle! When a person is accused by another person of “sexual battery” the investigating officer gets an affidavit from the victim outling the crimes committed on them and arrests the suspect ASAP! Borders and his people don’t see anything wrong with people who are accused of sexual crimes agaisnt other people. Apparently to them it’s just another day in the park! Waht would happen around here is a person was raped by someone passing throught Lake County? The aggressor/ rapist could just thumb their noses at Borders and keep on keeping on just like Tyler Anthony Jackson did!

    This is what Jeff Atwater had to say about the Tallahassee $50 Million courthouse and it’s toys and fixtures when he took office. Remember he had just come out of the legislature and should have been well aware of the authorized funding. Here in Lake County most if not all of these construction projects are double billed and some even triple billed. Per the Lake County Internal Aufitor we might ad.

    Jeff Atwater: Taj Mahal courthouse ‘far worse’ than a pricey building

    January 8, 2011 – State auditors are questioning more than $1 million in bills submitted for the new $50 million courthouse built by the 1st District Court of Appeal.

    “This is one of the great embarrassments for Florida government,” new Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater said of the building derided as Florida’s Taj Mahal. “The audacity and arrogance that was displayed in doing this and their continuing effort to hide the ball has been a complete disservice to hardworking Floridians who deserve better from public officials.” The day after Atwater was sworn into office this week, he was briefed by auditors who now work for him. He said he will personally inspect every outstanding bill and will allow no payment until he can determine what was purchased. His auditors are continuing an investigation that started under former CFO Alex Sink.

    “I now believe it is far worse than just an expensive building,” Atwater said.

    Some of Atwater’s questions surround apparent attempts by the court to buy big screen television sets and furnishings for the courthouse with the proceeds of a $33.5 million bond issue that taxpayers will repay over the next 30 years. “I cannot imagine financing equipment for 30 years that will depreciate over the next three to five years,” Atwater said. A former Senate president, Atwater said he has completely lost confidence in the Department of Management Services, the state agency responsible for overseeing construction of the courthouse. Officials at DMS signed off on the questionable purchases the judges requested. “I do not believe they (DMS) have been straight with the people of Florida, certainly not with our department,” he said. “They have been disguising what they were trying to get us to sign off on — and I have only been here a day.”

    In October the CFO’s scathing audit of the project accused the judges of illegally taking control of planning and construction away from DMS and laid much of the blame on the lobbying of 1st DCA Judges Paul M. Hawkes and Brad Thomas. Auditors are now questioning a number of bills submitted by DMS for Peter R. Brown Construction Co. and Black Box Network Services, the company providing telecommunications equipment to the court. Black Box billed the state $693,450 for services and electronics equipment but has yet to collect $571,105 due to questions raised by auditors.

    The judges originally planned to put a 60-inch flat screen in each of 16 judges’ chambers but apparently returned the televisions after the Times reported in August on the courthouse’s many luxuries. Auditors are also questioning the legality of the restocking fee Black Box requested.

    Auditors say they can’t immediately determine how many televisions the court is attempting to buy. They sent an inspector out to count after getting a bill for nine. The inspector found the nine sets, plus two more still in boxes. The court was paying $5,978 for each 60-inch television, $2,273 for 47-inch televisions and $3,325 for 52-inch televisions, far more than the price of similar-sized TVs at major electronic stores.

    Internal memos indicate auditors could not determine what was being purchased in one December bill for $145,000. When they asked for additional documentation they discovered that $41,000 of the total was for the nine TVs. Officials at DMS did not respond to detailed requests for comment on Friday.

    Atwater is trying to unravel other questionable expenditures. One involves the purchase of art for the new building, and vendors that DMS and the court authorized to provide services that exceed the $100,000 limit on art that state law says can be purchased for a new building.
    One of those vendors is Signature Art Gallery, owned by Mary Maida, wife of Tallahassee lawyer Tom Maida. The gallery agreed to frame 400 historical photos in the new building at a cost of more than $357,000, money that was to be paid by construction manager Peter R. Brown. In addition the court has agreed to pay $72,000 for original paintings by seven Florida artists.

    The framed photographs include scenes from the 32 counties in Florida’s northern district: greased pig contests, tobacco farms, lighthouses, cotton pickers, Tarzan at Wakulla Springs and other historic scenes.

    Auditors have refused to approve payment of the bill because it exceeds the $100,000 limit. Some at the court have argued that the photos are not art and should not be included in the amount state law allows for art when a new building is built.

    The situation leaves Mrs. Maida, owner of a small gallery in northeast Tallahassee, with a huge unpaid bill. Her husband, a lawyer at Foley & Lardner, has written to lawyers in Atwater’s office asking for copies of all records relating to the art.

    He has not filed a lawsuit. “I hope we don’t have to,” Tom Maida said when asked about the debt. “We certainly believe she is entitled to be paid by the state.”

    It will be up to Atwater to decide. He’s trying to determine what the state should do where a vendor has entered into a contract in good faith expecting to be paid for work — but that work violates state law.

    Meanwhile Hawkes, chief judge during much of the construction project, and other officials involved in the project have been asked to appear before a Senate budget committee Wednesday to answer questions about the new courthouse. Thomas, the other judge who helped lobby for the project, also was invited. On Friday he notified the committee he will not appear.

    “He had no problem coming to lobby for a $50 million courthouse, but now he can’t come back to answer questions,” said committee Chairman Mike Fasano. Thomas did not respond to an e-mail requesting comment.

    Lawmakers approved the money for the project and passed a $33.5 million bond issue that was tucked into an unrelated transportation bill on the last day of the 2007 legislative session. They say they had no idea the judges planned to build such an elaborate building.

    The 110,000-square-foot building houses the 1st District’s 114 employees. Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Canady is working on plans to remodel part of the building to accommodate 50 to 60 state court administrative employees, who could move out of rented quarters and save the state about $300,000 a year.

    Atwater said he cannot allow the problems with the new building to go unaddressed. “There are people at DMS who tried to stop this, at least tried to bring a level of thoughtful scrutiny to it and it may have cost them their jobs,” he said.
    “We should be championing those people.”

  3. Hey old liquor store man you have been drinking the kool aid. You are full of baloney. We the taxpayers of Lake County finally gave in to the feds demands to build the present jail by agreeing to the ONE CENT Tax. The old jail which is now the sheriff’s office was built to house a total of 208 inmates and there was around 400 in by at the time we got into the new jail. It was the local politicians that wanted the now not big enough judicial center and it was
    Your Tax Collector Bob McKee and School Board Chairman Jimmy Conner that masterminded building all those never needed in the first place schools that got us over $560 million in debt without voter approval.

    You and Ms. Marilyn Bainter were so concerned about the North Lake Hospital tax being collected and given out to the hospitals without voter approval, (usually under $11 million per year) but you idiot you don’t see a thing wrong with this bunch of local politicians getting us more in debt than the Powerball prize that excited most of the nation! If as you say all these schools and this courthouse and all this “build it and they will comes BS” was mandated by Tallahassee, then it was done under the orders of Jeb Bush so he could build up a supply of schools to later lead the efforts to turn them into charter schools for his friends.

    You were probably drunk and don’t remember, but on May 10, 1988 we voted down a $110 Million School Bond referendum; 13,287 against and only 5479 for it. Just like that hospital tax thing you said the voters didn’t get the chance to approve – never again have we been afforded to chance to vote on all this school debts! “They” so not pay any attention to the voters! Then they consume idiots like you and your tea bagger friends that were going to save this country from Obama; we can sure as hell see how that worked out for you tea baggers! Everyone was saying ya’ll have gone underground and was working quietly to get the voters out. But in reality your tea bagger leaders was sucked up by these very criminals you were supposed to be protecting the people from. A check of the campaign contributions show who supported the enemies while claiming to be leading their followers to a transparent constitutional government!
    It is a fact all you know is what the politicians tell you and what you read in the local papers and see on television. Therefore you are dumber than a box of rocks! You are programmed to believe everything is wonderful. Anyone like you and Ralph Smith who so adamantly took up for the child molesting sheriff during the election comes from the sick side of life to begin with. The sick are mentally programmed to ignore and refuse to accept the facts before their eyes. They pat you on the back and throw you a few bones now and then to supplement you little SS check. You are nothing more than just another tool used by a sick society to achieve their goals!

  4. People who comments on this site are just as clueless as some of those who write the articles on the RSOL. Many time it’s the RSOLs fault for disseminating erroneous information in the first place and never bothering to correct that information. Points in question, the new courthouse wasn’t built because a politician wanted to spend money, it was a state “mandate” that it be built because of the amount of cases being heard in Lake county courts. The School Board didn’t borrow the money a few years ago to build all those new schools because they simply felt like it, they had to build all the new schools because of the sudden influx of a very large number of students, the state “mandated” the new schools.

  5. Name says:

    This evening on Channel 9, Clermont City Council member Ray Goodgame (who, incidentally was the one who called Channel 9 to do this report), made a statement that the City of Clermont will “contribute” $20,000 for an unwarranted traffic light at Hancock Road and Diamond Club Drive. This is NEWS to me, and probably to the TAXPAYERS of the City of Clermont. The vote on whether or not to expend ANY money for this unwarranted traffic signal that is being requested by a small number of residents from a private gated community, will not be made by the Clermont City Council until December 11th, so are you privy to to “inside” information that the Clermont TAXPAYERS need to know? Another NEWS FLASH Mr. Goodgame, the City of Clermont will be using Reserves to fund the 2012-2013 budget, we do NOT have any “extra” money to shore up your voting base with “political favors”. .

  6. When we let Lake County officials talk us into voting for the ONE CENT extra sales tax now called the INFRASTRUCTURE TAX it as first to be used to build a well need new county jail. We were led to believe they were going to save up those pennies and build the jail. Then they wanted the present judicial center and used the tax for that. Somewhere along the line they got greedy and used the tax to borrow bond money to get all their wants built in a hurry. they got tired of waiting. they are worried about that ONE CENT failing next time now.

    But just for a minute stop and think about this. Just yesterday The Powerball went to a whopping $579 Million bucks. Did you see all them people on television buying those tickets to the tune of something like 17,000 an hour or something?

    You know what I was thinking? I was thinking I wish the Lake County School Board as government officials not individuals had won that prize on one ticket.

    Why? Because they could have applied it to the bond debt they have thanks to Jimmy Conner and a bunch of others. Even still there would have been a small balance but we the taxpayers could handle that.

    Can you imagine just the thoughts of people having the chance to win $579 Million got so much attention and brought out so much public input from Arizona to New York and the fact that right here in little old Lake County, Florida our elected officials has got us further in debt than that and the school board debt was acquired without voter approval.

    Every last taxpayer in Lake County, Florida should be raising all matter of cane about al this debt. Don’t worry about “our present politicians grasping these simple facts,” because they all just do what they are told to do by their masters. It won’t do us any good to get different ones. who do because the bosses like Cadwell will just give them that “we ain’t had a consensus since you’ve been on this board speach” and next thing you know everybody will fall in line.

  7. Government has to do the same as all Lake County families. Match your spending with your income. When our income goes down or costs go up, we have to cut out some of our spending, Is this concept too hard to understand? We still have huge amounts of fat in our spending and even if we didn’t, we must cut spending to match incomes. Tax increases (what an impact fee is) hurts business which hurts employment and further reduces income.. This is simple stuff and must be understood by the politicians for Lake Country to thrive. One only has to go to downtown Tavares and look around to see what we have spent in the last decades. If our present politicians don’t grasp these simple facts, then we will have to get different ones. who do.

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