Sebastian parks group wants more time to collect, spend funds

SEBASTIAN – The Sebastian Recreation Advisory Committee wants to know if it can get more time to spend funds the city has accrued from development.

The city is approximately 70 percent built out, making both land and prospective new funds more difficult to come by – and less than seven years to spend it.

As it is, Sebastian has about $500,000 in recreation impact fees spread amongst four zones to be used on improvements and new parks projects.

“There’s a lot of inventory,” said City Manager Al Minner of the built-but-vacant homes already in the city.

He told the committee that the city has enough existing homes to not worry about new developments for about 10 to 15 years.

That said, the city can count on fewer impact fees coming in, the committee learned Monday evening. And, even once the vacant lots are built, the city could expect to bring in about $3 million – the majority in Zone D, the southwest portion of the city, Minner told the committee.

“It’s really the big monster,” he said of the zone, noting that of the $500,000 the city has in recreation impact fees, a few hundred thousand dollars are allocated to that area.

Committee Chair Joanne White suggested the city reconsider the seven-year time limit placed on recreation fees.

Her fellow committee members agreed, noting that once the funds are depleted, large-scale parks projects could be hard to achieve. By having more time to accumulate the recreation impact fees, the committee would then be better able to address parks and recreation needs farther down the road, they said.

At the current building rate – an average of four building permits pulled monthly – Minner estimated the city would bring in about $37,800 this year.

One zone alone would collect about $6,600, he said.

“What are you going to spend that on?” Minner asked rhetorically.

Minner told the committee he would review the seven-year rule with the city attorney to determine whether or not that time frame could be changed.

If the limit were not changed and the funds not allocated to specific projects, the city could be in a position of having to return the recreation impact fees to the developer who paid them.

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