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Mobility fees for Osceola developers nearly double

Posted on Saturday, January 13, 2018 at 6:00 am

By Rachel Christian
Staff Writer
Osceola County Commissioners revised an ordinance this week aimed at generating revenue for much-needed roads and transportation projects across the county.
During a Monday meeting, the commission voted to more than double the county’s mobility fee, a cost developers pay for government agencies to improve roads and transit systems impacted by new private construction projects.
HNTS Corporation began a review of the county’s mobility fee in November, and found it to be

Osceola County Commission

“significantly less” than what agencies like the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) charge for similar work in the open market, according to the ordinance.
“The fee increase is due to construction cost increases, which have risen over 200 percent,” Mary Moskowitz, senior planner at the Osceola County Transportation Department, told commissioners Monday.
How much will fees increase?
The fees will impact all types of real estate projects, and are assessed based on factors, such as how much traffic an anticipated construction is likely to generate. Big projects like golf courses and hospitals will have much higher mobility fees than a townhouse.
Under the revised ordinance, fees for a single-family home will nearly double from $4,585 to $8,671, and fees for multifamily projects will go from $3,203 per unit to $6,058.
Discounted fees will be given to mixed-use and transient-housing projects; both of which are part of the county’s comprehensive growth plan.
Background on mobility fees
The commission first adapted the mobility fee ordinance in 2015 to replace transportation impact fees, which commissioners suspended in 2011 and later repealed.
County Commissioner Cheryl Grieb said the recent fee hike is a way to make sure developers pay their fair share of improvement costs to roadways affected by their projects.
“I’m happy with the new ordinance, and only wish these changes had been made sooner,” she said.
Grieb said the commission suspended similar fees during the recession when market conditions were poor and attracting development was a priority. When mobility fees were implemented three years ago, the county kept them relatively low to help foster growth.
Now that the market is more stable, increasing mobility fees is one way commissioners hope to curb Osceola County’s rapid growth woes.
Collecting the money sooner
The revised ordinance also allows the county’s transportation department to collect mobility fees sooner.
Previously, fees were due around the certificate of occupancy, or the end of the project. This schedule often puts a strain on local government, which was forced to make roadway and infrastructure improvements long before developers paid their share.
Fees will now be collected during the earlier permitting stage, putting Osceola County in stride with other nearby municipalities like Orlando and Orange County.
Not a “cure all”
Despite an unanimous approval by the board, Commissioner Chairman Frank Hawkins Jr. cautioned fellow commissioners from thinking of the mobility fees as “the end-all to fixing our road problems.”
“I think that the mobility fees and the moratorium are just a small percentage of the work this board is going to have to do to figure out where we’re going in the future and how to overcome the hurdles we face,” Hawkins said.
Commissioner Brandon Arrington, who said the county is still facing a $400 million infrastructure investment gap, even with the fee changes, echoed the sentiment.
Revised mobility fees go into effect on new construction projects effective May 1.