Understanding the current fees
Miami-Dade County imposes road impact fees on new developments in both unincorporated and incorporated areas of the County, subject to any applicable exemptions or credits, which may reduce or eliminate the fee due. Road impact fees must be paid prior to obtaining a building permit for new construction and are often substantial.
For example, the current road impact fee, including applicable administrative charges, for a new 50-unit condominium development in an urban-infill area would be $113,600 ($2,272.00 per unit), and the current road impact fee for a new 2,500-square-foot fast-food restaurant without a drive thru would be $71,228.75 ($28.4915 per square foot). These road impact fees are levied in addition to other applicable impact fees, such as Fire, Police, Parks, and School fees, which are payable to either the County or the municipality in which a development is located.
In 2009, Miami-Dade County adopted increased road impact fees, with the increases to take effect in phases. However, in order to help alleviate the impact of the economic downturn on the development industry, the Board of County Commissioners has passed legislation each of the past few years that delayed implementation of the increased fees, thus extending the discount. The above fees therefore represent a 50% reduction compared to the full amount of the road impact fee that would otherwise be due.
Impact of the fee increase
The discount is set to expire in five phases, with the next phase of the expiration to take effect on April 22, 2013. On that date, the amount of the road impact fee due will increase from 50% of the full amount to 65% of the full amount. While this may appear to be a 15% change, the net result is a 30% increase over current rates. Although the County has, in the past few years, extended the discount in recognition of the downturn in the economy, it does not appear that there is pending County legislation that would do the same this year. Therefore, on April 22, 2013, the road impact fee for the same 50-unit condominium described above will increase from $113,600 to $147,680. Again, this amount is only for road impact fees; other applicable impact fees will also be due.
Moving forward, the discount will continue to be phased out, with corresponding increases in road impact fees. On, April 22, 2014, the fees will increase from 65% to 80% of the full amount—a total increase of 60% over the fees due today. On April 22, 2015, the fees due will increase from 80% to 90% of the full amount, and on January 1, 2016, the discount will expire completely. Thus, between April 21, 2013, and January 1, 2016, road impact fees will double, with the bulk of that increase occurring by April 22, 2014. These increases are independent of the annual increases in the road impact fee rates of approximately 3.5% to account for inflation.
Developers should be aware of these increases in impact fees, as substantial cost savings can be achieved through pulling building permits on April 19 instead of April 22 (April 20 and 21 fall on Saturday and Sunday, respectively, and the last day to pay fees at current rates is therefore April 19) or, possibly paying the impact fee prior to April 22 at the current rate even though the permit is not yet ready to issue. In addition, as described above, certain exemptions or credits against road impact fees may be available for a particular project or location.