Who Gets Impact Fee Refunds? Pulte Home Corp. is suing Osceola County, Fla., saying it, not the buyers of its homes, is owed $1.6-million in court-ordered school impact fee refunds. Pulte argues that it did not directly pass on impact fee costs to its buyers during a nine-month elevated fee period, so it deserves refunds on fees paid for 385 single-family homes and 766 multifamily units built during that time.
The lawsuit stems from a court decision last year that found that the county's school impact fee increases, which ballooned fees from $2,828 a home to $9,708, were excessive. The court ordered refunds of $1,815 for every single-family home, $1,152 for every multifamily home, and $870 for every mobile home put in place between May 1, 2004, and January 25, 2006.
But other area builders have waived their rights to the refunds and distributed them to their customers who purchased homes when the elevated fees were in place. Charlie Robertson of Robertson Homes, president of the Orlando Home Builders Association, and a plaintiff in the original impact fee challenge, says that Pulte's assertion that it is owed the refund is in the minority among local builders. “Most of us have made the decision to give the money back to everybody,” he says.
In fact, Robertson and others testified during the original court challenge that they directly pass through any impact fee increases to their buyers. “If Pulte did it differently, then that's their decision, and they will have to go back and fight for it.”
Pulte offered no comment for this story. –Teresa Burney
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