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Tampa leaders consider public safety impact fees to support fire, police services in growing areas

TAMPA, Fla. — In some places, the city of Tampa is growing so fast it’s putting a strain on emergency services like police and fire rescue. Now, the city is considering implementing public safety impact fees to help support the Tampa Police Department and Tampa Fire Rescue.

Impact fees are a one-time tax imposed by local governments on all new residential and commercial construction. Impact fees are designed to help offset the cost of growth’s impact on vital services. City and county leaders often put these fees in place for new roads, schools, fire services, parks and other infrastructure needs.

In Tampa, new construction is really going up in three main areas: Channelside, North Tampa and New Tampa.

New Tampa is one of the fastest-growing communities. Channelside, with Water Street and major developments with the University of South Florida, is a neighborhood still without its own dedicated fire station.

North Tampa is home to Fire Station 13, one of the busiest fire stations in the entire country. It gets more calls for service than anywhere else in Tampa and serves not only the University of South Florida’s main campus, but Busch Boulevard, Sulphur Springs, and more.

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“The burden that we put on the men and women that Station 13 is far too high,” Councilman Luis Viera said. “It causes repetitive stress, repetitive trauma and our city of Tampa employees and we got to do better by them.”

Councilman John Dingfelder, who filed the motion, alongside Councilman Luis Viera, is hopeful impact fees would help ensure new residents have adequate access to police and fire services with lower response times.

City council members will discuss whether they can legally implement public safety impact fees at their May 6 meeting.

Hillsborough County already has a similar impact fee in place, but if the City of Tampa were to move forward, leaders would need to do a study to see how it would affect the community first.

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