HOME BUILDERS IN METRO ORLANDO lost an important case last summer when Circuit Court Judge James R. Stroker ruled in favor of a $9,800 impact fee charged by the Osceola County school board.

The school impact fee went into effect in May 2004 when the school board argued that it needed the money to offset the county's fast-growing population (see “Fee Fight,” July 2004, page 33).

The lawsuit to roll back the impact fee to about $2,800 was filed on behalf of the Florida HBA, the HBA of Metro Orlando, and three private builders. The builders fought the case hard, fearing that if Osceola's school impact fee stands, it will set a precedent for other counties to charge similar costly school fees across the state.

In late September, the judge agreed to consider a request by the builders for home buyers to receive a $2,100 credit to offset fees paid for certificates of participation. William Hyde, the attorney for the builders, says the funding certificates, known as COPS, are used to finance existing schools.

“The COPS money is not for new schools generated by new construction,” says Hyde, who adds that Judge Stroker overlooked this issue in his final argument.

At press time, Judge Stroker had agreed to grant the $2,100 credit, but no decision to appeal had been made.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Orlando, FL.