Boca Del Mar/Texaco, Inc.
Flag Development Company
Florida Home Builders Association
Florida Power and Light Corporation
Florida Power Corporation
General Development Corporation
Prudential Insurance Company
Texas Instruments, Inc.
The Foundation Land Company
U.S. Home Corporation
Westinghouse Communities, Inc.
NICHOLAS identifies himself as an Emertius Law Professor -- NO law law degree, NO law license.
Due to enactment of an emergency half-cent sales tax increase in 2015, in a special election, NICHOLS argues home builders deserve "credit." Yes, investment of $189,000 in a PAC (with $500 contributed by St. Augustine Beach Civic Association), reducing impact fees and taxes by $150,000,000 over ten years, could well end up yielding developers and their commercial allies a Return on Investment (ROI) of 33,200%. Ever hear of a deal like that?
Here's the St. Augustine Record article on his putative "study," which recommends reducing school impact fees because of the $150,000,000 increase in sales taxes wrought by developers after a special election in 2015:
Posted August 6, 2017 04:25 am - Updated August 6, 2017 04:46 am
By JAKE MARTIN firstname.lastname@example.org
Study indicates St. Johns County’s impact fees could be going up — and down
A long-awaited study on impact fees, prepared for St. Johns County by consultant James C. Nicholas, is ready for review.
County commissioners and school board members are set to meet Tuesday for a presentation on the findings and recommendations, followed by discussion and consideration of possible actions to, perhaps, adjust the fee schedule.
The county currently collects impact fees in five categories: roads, fire and rescue, law enforcement, public buildings and parks and recreation. In addition, the county levies impact fees for schools on behalf of the St. Johns County School District.
“St. Johns County has been and is expected to continue experiencing growth,” the study says. “If St. Johns County is to remain a desirable place to work and live, the needs of growth must be attended to.”
However, numerous changes to the fee structure, along with justifications, are outlined in a 56-page document prepared for the county as well as a 15-pager prepared for the school district. There are some ups and there are some downs.
Impact fees may be set at the amounts recommended by the study, or lower. Formal recommendations from the school board, as well as a hearing and subsequent adoption hearings by the county commission, will be necessary for any final action.
The study says there must be a nexus between new development and the need to expand infrastructure. Establishing that nexus entails determining the anticipated cost of accommodating new development and identifying the proportional share of the cost.
“New users can be held responsible only for the costs attributable to new use and not for other costs, especially any charge that would yield a ‘windfall’ to the existing community,” the study says.
Supposing the recommendations are followed to their full extent, most nonresidential development uses, regardless of magnitude, would see their impact fees nearly double for services provided by the county. These include roads, public buildings, law enforcement, fire rescue and, in most cases, parks, but not schools.
Industrial, office and commercial development of various sizes and uses would see increases ranging from 83.5 percent to 128.7 percent assessed on every 1,000 square feet. For example, new service stations (of all types) currently pay $3,448 per 1,000 square feet under the current fee schedule, but would pay up to $7,154 under an updated schedule, constituting a 107.5 percent increase.
New commercial space under 100,000 square feet is currently on the hook for $4,804 per 1,000 square feet. Under a new fee schedule, that cost could go up 91 percent, to $9,178 per 1,000 square feet.
Some recreational and institutional development would see the biggest percentage climbs. Fees for marinas could increase by up to 302.9 percent, from $616 to $2,482. For a college, fees could go up as much as 230.6 percent, from $2,470 per 1,000 square feet to $8,165 per 1,000 square feet.
All nonresidential development are spared (and will continue to be spared) from paying school impact fees. Some have not had to pay toward parks either, although that could be changing for all commercial uses as well as some recreational and institutional uses.
Proposed changes for residential development are a little trickier.
Residential fees will be recast from using two size categories — 1,800 square feet and under, and over 1,800 square feet — to six size categories. These new categories break down as follows: under 800 square feet, 801 to 1,250 square feet, 1,251 to 2,500 square feet, 2,501 to 3,750 square feet, 3,751 to 5,000 square feet, and over 5,000 square feet.
“This change was made in order to more accurately reflect impact, since research has shown that smaller residential dwelling units tend to have few total and public school occupants,” the study says.
Most residential development will likely see an increase in what it’s kicking in toward services provided by the county, ranging from a 29.5 percent increase for units under 800 square feet to a 141.4 percent increase for units over 5,000 square feet.
However, the potential blow is softened by proposed decreases (yes, decreases) for school impact fees.
According to the study, credits for other revenue sources from the state and local property taxes, as well as the recent addition of monies from the half-cent sales tax, bring down the district’s cost per student station from $21,832 to $13,876. The study says other sources of revenue, as well as land donations from developers and measures such as putting students in relocatable classrooms, are adding up.
For example, the total proceeds of the 10-year sales tax hike, approved by county voters in 2015, is expected to generate about $150 million over its lifespan for the school district. As the study explains, nearly 71 percent of these monies are expected to be used for capacity expansions, “which will be credited against impact fees otherwise chargeable.”
A chart comparing school impact fees in 20 Florida counties, based on what a 2,000-square-foot home would pay, shows St. Johns County could be dropping to the middle of the pack, in terms of the amount charged. Currently, at $6,581, St. Johns is behind on Clay, Lake and Osceola and well above the $5,076 average or $5,284 median.
The study adjusts the fees applied for that 2,000-square-foot home in St. Johns to a maximum of $4,510. School impact fees would only be going up for homes 3,751 to 5,000 square feet, and homes over 5,000 square feet.
In addition to the impact fee study, members of the county commission and school board are expected to address new development/growth, career and technical education as well as a local facility to host graduations, according to the agenda.
The joint meeting, which starts at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday in the County Auditorium, 500 San Sebastian View, will be open to the public.
Tom Reynolds ·
Edward Adelbert Slavin ·
But Mr. Nicholas wrote me at 3:24 PM on August 6, 2017 that he is unavailable to meet with me, whether for an early lunch (or otherwise) on August 8, 2017, promptly writing me back that: "I have meetings in the morning of the 8th thru (sic) the time for the joint meeting with the two boards. Given the scope of your document requests, I will defer to the County for them (sic) to respond."
I wrote back to Mr. Nichols that I do look forward to having my questions answered and my document requests fulfilled.
No documents received yet in response to my requests.
I will keep y'all posted.
John Cicalese ·
Why not let the people vote --to repeal the one-half cent sales tax increase from 2015, internalizing the external costs of development?
Otherwise developers and their commercial allies will have succeded in a $150,000,000 fraud on the government and the citizenry.
To summarize: a mere $189,000 invested in a PAC to push for the one-half cent sales tax in a special election with only that on the ballot.
It passed, thereby relieving Wall Street, concealed foreign investors in LLC and other "developers " (read: speculators) of some $150,000,000 in impact fees and taxes over the ten year term of the half-cent sales tax increase.
Impressive return on investment (ROI): some 33,200%!
Grand theft, St. Johns County style, brought to you by developers and property owners and their politicians?
Let's seek independent legal advice.
Will the FBI kindly investigate?