The Mobility Fee Compromise: Winners & Losers

April 11, 2013 28 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

On Tuesday night, the Jacksonville City Council approved a modified version of Councilman Clark's bill that called for a three year, 100% waiver of mobility fees in an effort to stimulate the continued construction of unsustainable new development at the expense of the taxpayer. Today, Metro Jacksonville's Ennis Davis shares what the bill means for Jacksonville and identifies winners and losers from the modified legislation.

What Is The Mobility Plan and Fee

When it comes to city planning, Jacksonville is sometimes known more for its missteps than what it does right. The 2030 Mobility Plan could change all that. This innovative plan provides a framework to integrate rail, pedestrian, bicycle and road transportation planning with land use strategies that combat unsustainable sprawl. Something we are all too familiar with. Many in Jacksonville have come to the conclusion that investing only in roadway construction to transport people about the city will not work forever. Other forms of mobility, or moving around the city, must be considered to create a city that will not collapse under the weight of ever expanding borders and strains on municipal resources.

First, it provides a framework to integrate land development, with mobility (pedestrians, bicycles, transit and roads) and gives the development community incentives to embrace smart growth principles into their project’s design.

Second, it lays out a mobility fee that all new development must pay when starting new projects in the city. Developments further from the city core that put more wear and tear on the streets and infrastructure will result in higher project mobility fees.  However, development that embraces financially sustainable features such as infill and adaptive reuse projects results in the virtual elimination of the fee.

For more information on the Mobility Plan & Fee, Click Here.

The Mobility Fee Moratorium Compromise in a Nutshell:

In October 2011, one month after the approval of the mobility plan, the development community successfully lobbied council to place a one year moratorium on the collection of the mobility fee. In October 2012, that moratorium expired. Statistical data from that time period suggested that the subsidy provided to the development community did not create the amount of jobs promised by the development community.  However, the precedent of giving in to special interest had been set and shortly after its expiration, Councilman Richard Clark introduced legislation for a new moratorium on the collection of waiver fees. Clark's bill called for a three year, 100% moratorium on the collection of mobility fees and included provisions that would exempt certain types of developments from haing to pay a fee for eternity.

Due to public opposition, what appeared to originally on the path of approval by council was delayed in an effort to modify Councilman Clark's request to a more palatable waiver alternative for council members desiring a "compromise." On Tuesday, April 9, 2013, the council unanimously approved a modified version to the original bill.

Instead of the original 36 month, 100% fee waiver requested by Councilman Rick Clark, an 18 month adjustable waiver period will be allowed by Council:

0 to 9 months = 75% fee waiver

9 to 15 months = 50% fee waiver

15 to 18 months = 25% fee waiver

In addition, due to the passion of bicycle/pedestrian advocates, bicycle/pedestrian projects within the mobility plan (excluding bike/ped projects the are a part of road projects) will be funded at the same dollar value they would have been funded at if they were collecting 100% of the fee.

All context sensitive roadway and transit projects will have to fight for the table scraps left. Furthermore, the part of the original bill that exempted residential lots based on construction of infrastructure was removed.

While the council touts this as a compromise between taxpayers and special interests, the reality of the situation can accurately be described in a comment by Stephen Dare below:

So for the first 9 months, taxpayers will only have to pay for 75% of the taxes that the suburban developers would have to pay under the mobility fee?

Keeping in mind that the mobility fee is literally half of what they were paying before under the concurrency.  And that that reduction was the un-negotiated amount that the developers demanded when they showed up at the meeting to determine the new fee structure in the first place?

Which I guess means that now the rest of the taxpayers are going to pay for 87.5% of the development tax for them, and then 100% of all the maintenance for every bit of infrastructure that their development force to be built every year afterwards.

But that's just for the first nine months.

Then it goes down to an average of 75% of the old concurrency rates will be funded by the tax payers for the first year, and then 100% every year afterwards.

And then for another six months, the taxpayers will only pay 50% of the old concurrency on behalf of the developers and 100% for every year after that?

Next Page: Winners & Losers

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