BOCC Passes Mobility Fee Ordinance, Shuts Door On Half-Cent Transportation Sales Tax

By Tamas Mondovics

Members of the Hillsborough Board of County Commission faced residents during two pubic hearings last month to decide on the county’s transportation future. The two issues on the table included whether to implement a new mobility fees ordinance, charging developers to pay more of the impact or transportation costs stemming from residential and commercial projects, followed by what was a more controversial decision: whether to put a half-cent sales tax to fund decades of transportation improvements on the November ballot.

The first of the two hearings was held at East Bay High School, resulting in the BOCC’s unanimous vote on passing a new mobility fees ordinance, which will impose a one-time capital charge on developers based on land use and size. The new fee structure will replace the current impact fee schedule, which was last updated in 1989. The fees differ from impact fees since they can be applied to cover several modes of transportation.

Sun City resident and supporter of the new fee, Jim Duffy had a chance to address the board first.

“My greatest fear is that if you fail to come to an agreement, nothing will be done to improve our traffic and transportation issues,” he said.

The board set a schedule to conduct an annual review of the level of fees for the first five years. After a motion by Commissioner Stacy White, the board also set a single schedule on the phasing of the fees, starting at 40 percent and increasing gradually over the five-year period.

“The money collected from the mobility fees might be lower than the current impact fee program,” White said adding, “We must do a better job. That is why I am supporting the mobility fees.”

Drilling County Administrator Mike Merrill, White, and Commissioner Kevin Beckner made sure that under the ordinance the fee money will be spent in the district from which it is collected.

With the passing of the new fees structure, Duffy got half of his wish as the county commission rejected the proposed 30-year, half-cent sales tax, refusing to put it on the November ballot and letting voters decide. The decision to shut down the tax hike came at the end of a four hour debate thanks to four “no” votes by Commissioners White, Murman, Crist, and Higginbotham to three “yes” votes by Commissioners Hagan, Miller, and Beckner. For more information, visit www.hillsboroughcounty.org.