Flagler Commission Considers Economic Development Fees

Flagler County is adding some new tools to its economic development toolbox in the form of an impact fee program.

In a presentation to county commissioners, Deputy County Administrator Jorge Salinas outlined two incentive options, an impact fee grant program and a recaptured enhanced value or REV program.

The impact fee grant program takes interest earned from impact fees and uses it as an incentive to offset the same impact fee to attract new business development.

According to the staff report prepared for the commission meeting, all impact fees collected by the county must be deposited in a trust fund and maintained according to the county’s investment policy.

“Any income from such investment must be spent on the same purpose as the underlying impact fee,” the county staff report said. “Thus, interest earned from impact fees previously collected by the county may be used to pay the impact fees of new or expanding businesses that the county wishes, as long as the monies are spent for the same purpose for which the underlying impact fee was collected.”

As an example, interest from transportation impact fees previously collected can only be used to offset transportation impact fees for a prospective new business.

The REV grant program “is very similar to a tax increment finance program,” Salinas said. To qualify for the county program businesses must employ at least 30 employees at 125% of the annual wage in Flagler County, and the project requires a minimum investment of $10 million in construction of renovation, excluding land.

Commissioner Donald O’Brien said the new incentives are “tools we can use when projects come to us as we start to talk to prospects.”

Commissioner Dave Sullivan said the proposed incentives are a good idea.

“The reason we are looking at this is we don’t want to be in the business of giving people money up front before they build their building or bring in employees,” he said. “We’re just trying to set this up to give us a bigger bag of ways of incentivizing businesses to come to the county.”

Greg Blose, president and CEO of the Palm Coast-Flagler Regional Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber supports both incentive programs.

“This to me is really about being competitive,” he said. “This is a step in the right direction. This is a great start.”