Unraveling the Mystery of Development Impact Fees

Few people outside the local, county, and state government agencies understand “Development Impact” fees. Engage Estero monitors impact fees and their use in Estero and surrounding areas. The following information will help you understand what they are, how they are calculated, what they can be used for, and who sets the rates.

What Are Impact Fees and Why Are They Needed?

The American Planning Association (APA) provides insight into Impact fees, “Impact fees are payments required by local governments of new development to provide new or expanded public capital facilities required to serve that development. They are used to finance improvements offsite (Roads, Schools, Parks, Fire/EMS) but to benefit the development.”

The APA confirms, “Local governments throughout the country increasingly use impact fees to shift more of the costs of financing public facilities from the general taxpayer to the beneficiaries of those new facilities. The fees supplement local government resources that otherwise have decreased because of diminished state and federal funds transfers. Local governments have also used impact fees to delay or as a substitute for general property tax increases.”

Impact Fee Infographic

Who Sets the Rates?

Lee County Board of County Commissioners sets the fees for unincorporated Lee County areas. The Village of Estero and Bonita Springs codify impact fees in their Land Development Code.

How Are the Fees Calculated?

Lee County Commissioners set the base fee and collection percentage for unincorporated Lee County in March 2018, and the unanimously approved ordinance is in effect for five years. The Commissioners approved a 2.5% escalation rate per year from 45% to 55% over five years.

For What Can They Be Used?

For example, single-family home fees include the following:


Base fee $9,996
Collection rate 3/7/2021 (52.5%)
Equals $5,247
(Unincorporated Lee County)

Each municipality can set the road’s impact fee percentage. The Village of Estero and Bonita Springs sets their percentage at 100%.


Base fee $5,484
Collection rate 3/7/2021 (52.5%)
Equals $2,879 (all of Lee County)

The school district requests the collection rate, and the County Commissioners approve the rate.


Base fee $1,535
Collection rate 3/7/2021 (52.5%)
Equals $806
(Unincorporated Lee County)

Each municipality can set its parks’ impact fee percentage. The Village of Estero and Bonita Springs sets their percentage at 100%.


Base fee $821
Collection rate (100%)
Equals $821

This rate is the maximum rate the fire districts can charge, and most charge the maximum.

No Increases for March 2022 or March 2023

So, why didn’t increases follow the 2018 Lee County BOCC ordinance?

New Developments

Florida legislators passed a law that set limits for impact fees. LAWS OF FLORIDA Ch. 2021-63, amending Florida Statute, 163.31801. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law. This act was signed by the Governor on June 4, 2021, and Filed in the Office Secretary of State on June 4, 2021.


Excerpts from this Law:

  1. An impact fee may be increased only pursuant to a plan for the imposition, collection, and use of the increased impact fees which complies with this section.
  2. An increase to a current impact fee rate of not more than 25 percent of the current rate must be implemented in two equal annual increments beginning with the date on which the increased fee is adopted.
  3. An increase to a current impact fee rate which exceeds 25 percent but is not more than 50 percent of the current rate must be implemented in four equal installments beginning with the date the increased fee is adopted.
  4. An impact fee increase may not exceed 50 percent of the current fee rate.
  5. An impact fee may not be increased more than once every 4 years.
  6. An impact fee may not be increased retroactively for a previous or current fiscal or calendar year.

The increase to 55% in unincorporated Lee County, scheduled for 3/10/2022, did not take effect because it would violate the Florida Statutes. The rate will remain at 52.5% for four years!

By law, the subsequent increase could be effective on 3/10/2025. The bad news is that Lee District Schools, our parks, and our roads are missing millions of dollars in impact fees. The good news, the county is in discussions with East Corkscrew Road developers to help upgrade/enhance/widen Corkscrew Rd through proportionate share. More good news, the school district is willing to collaborate with the developers to provide land for schools.

Proportionate Share Program

Impact Fees on Developments

The State and County also use the “Proportionate Share Program” at their discretion. There is a statutory basis for the program in Section 163.3180 of the Florida Statutes.

Currently, Lee County uses the “Proportionate Share Program” only for roads. County management stated, “Proportionate Share was never intended to make up the difference between assessed impact fees and 100% impact fees. Proportionate Share is one of several funding sources to upgrade roads”:

  1. Gas tax (which is flat and projected to decrease with more electric vehicles)
  2. Proportionate Share (negotiated for each new development, with restrictions, and must be used in the general area)
  3. Road Impact fees (restrictions and must be used in the general area)
  4. General fund
  5. Unused tolls

The County Commissioners can use Proportionate Share to help fund road improvements in areas where homeowners can afford the higher impact fees. In our area of Lee County, specifically in the East Corkscrew area.

Where do we go from here?

The new School Board and the new School Superintendent have time to work with the County Commissioners on an impact fee rate for schools. This attention is essential as the School District carries $.5B in capital (construction) debt and annual service of that debt at nearly $100M.

The Lee County commissioners would also have time to determine the roads, parks, and Fire/EMS rate.

“Be Informed, Get Engaged, and Make an Impact!”

Engage Estero tracks these issues carefully and alerts residents when their input, action and participation can improve our future. Subscribe to our emails to be the first to know. 

Engage Estero will continue our mission to build trust by providing transparency, listening to citizens, evaluating government plans and other local activities, and communicating informed and collective opinions to residents. We will research and share findings, seek opportunities, offer solutions, and challenge threats to encourage citizen engagement. 

What we do, we do with purpose, passion, and pride in our community.