November 6, 2023
Shawn College – [email protected] – 813-547-3367
November 15, 2023
When a property owner applies for a plan amendment or rezoning, the Planning Commission charges a user fee to recover the cost of reviewing and processing the application. These user fees are charged so that those requesting the services are responsible for the payment instead of the taxpayers at large. The fees are imposed by the government for the primary purpose of covering the cost of providing a service, directly raising funds from the people who benefit from the public good or service being provided.
It is the Planning Commission’s practice to periodically review its fees so that the Planning Commission may recover the costs associated with the services it provides to customers. Over time, with inflation, the cost of providing these services increases and the cost charged for these services needs to increase. If not, the difference between the cost of the service and what is charged to the applicant is subsidized by taxpayers.
The last fee study performed by the Planning Commission was approximately four years ago and focused solely on services provided to Unincorporated Hillsborough County. This year, the Planning Commission contracted MGT Consulting (MGT) to review the fees charged to applicants from the Cities of Tampa, Temple Terrace, and Plant City.
Not surprisingly, given the current economic environment and the rise in costs associated with both employee and non-employee expenditures, current prices do not recover the costs of providing services. This means that Temple Terrace taxpayers are paying approximately $6,300 of the fee for the average Comprehensive Plan amendment for each application that covers less than 50 acres. While these subsidies are significant, this is not an uncommon finding for entities that have not performed a study such as this in recent years.
The report from MGT found that taxpayers are subsidizing most of the cost for services studied as the customers do not currently pay the full amount it costs the Planning Commission to provide the service. It is MGT’s recommendation that the Planning Commission adjust its fees to reflect 100% cost recovery for its services.
To avoid the sticker shock of significantly increasing fees to meet the 100% cost recovery recommendation, one option the Planning Commission may explore is to progressively increase the fees year over year. This is a practice that other jurisdictions have used previously. This option would more significantly impact individual citizens or price-conscious consumers, not contractors or large businesses that would likely be associated with these services. However, should the Planning Commission elect to progressively increase fees, MGT recommends increasing the fees either over a 2- or 3-year period to the full cost recovery. MGT also recommends raising fees to the full-cost recovery price point as this is typically for these types of services.
The Planning Commission was briefed on this report at its October 9 meeting. It is anticipated that the Planning Commission will consider a recommendation to City Councils for an increase in their fees at the Planning Commission’s December 11 meeting. At this meeting, there will be an opportunity to weigh in. The final decision on any increase in fees will be made by each jurisdiction’s governing body; the Planning Commission’s recommendation will be sent to them for consideration in 2024.
For more information and to provide comments in advance of the December 11 meeting, please visit the study page.