To the editor:
The Lee County Commissioners stole the entire Conservation 2020 budget in 2013 and gave some $16 million of it to the building industry. They claimed they were trying to stimulate more construction, and the theory was that eliminating 80 percent of impact fees would reduce the price of a new home by some $10,000 - making them more affordable. Of course, as we all know, the prices of new homes went up - not down, and the building industry just kept the extra money for themselves.
Now the developers and four out of five of the commissioners (all but Frank Mann - bless his heart) are falling all over each other falsely claiming credit (by reducing impact fees) for having saved the Lee County economy. They decided on Tuesday to extend the reduction for another year. Never mind that the entire United States is recovering, including our neighboring cities and counties that still have impact fees. Never mind that some 90 percent of Florida municipalities have impact fees, and that pretty much all of them are in economic recovery (the same as we are). Never mind that impact fees are essential for building new roads and schools and parks, etc. Never mind that real estate taxes and sales taxes will have to continue to be raised to replace the impact fee revenues if we are to build essential infrastructure to support new housing. Never mind that our conservation program is in its death throes.
The burden of paying for infrastructure to support new development has been transferred from the developers and new residents to existing resident taxpayers (who already paid their fair share when they purchased their homes). Taxpayers are being taxed twice for the same thing, and the extra money is essentially being donated to developers and land speculators.
Tuesday's decision means Peter (residents) will continue to be robbed, and Paul (developers) will continue to be very very grateful to incumbent commissioners right through the 2014 election.