© 2024 Central Florida Public Media. All Rights Reserved.
90.7 FM Orlando • 89.5 FM Ocala
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Sumter County approves 75% increase in impact fees to help fund roads tied to growth of The Villages

An overflow crowd attended a public hearing on impact fees in Sumter County. Photo: Joe Byrnes
An overflow crowd attended a public hearing on impact fees in Sumter County. Photo: Joe Byrnes

New homes and businesses will cover more of the cost for roads in Sumter County, where The Villages continues to expand rapidly.

The County Commission voted 3 to 2 Tuesday night to increase road impact fees by 75%.

Commissioner Gary Search proposed that amount, which is short of the maximum in a recent study.

"I'm looking for a balanced and equitable and fair distribution because, if the money doesn't come from impact fees to do the roads in the regional road agreement, then it comes from the General Fund," he said. "And if there's not enough money in the General Fund, then we tax the people."

The fee increase will bring in more than $3 million a year.

Supporters want The Villages’ developer, not homeowners, to bear more of the burden for new roads.

Opponents say it hurts new business, jobs and affordable housing.

Commissioner Doug Gilpin voted no.

"It's a sad day to see the big government coming to Sumter County," he said. "There's absolutely no need for this tax increase. It's being done for purely political reasons."

Commissioner Oren Miller wanted even higher fees.

"No current residents, no current businesses, should have to pay for the infrastructure that's going in down south," he said.

It was a 25 percent property tax increase in 2019  that led to last year's turnover on the commission and, ultimately, to these higher fees.

Joe Byrnes came to Central Florida Public Media from the Ocala Star-Banner and The Gainesville Sun, where he worked as a reporter and editor for several years. Joe graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and turned to journalism after teaching. He enjoys freshwater fishing and family gatherings.