The monthly Network of Entrepreneurs and Business Advocates held their monthly luncheon meeting Tuesday and heard two experts discuss the pros and cons of a move towards a mobility fee.
A mobility fee, which is under consideration in Leon County, replaces impact and concurrency fees as a source for funding transportation projects. The fee would be paid by developers based on the parameters of specific projects.
Debbie Dantin, a Professional Engineer based in Tallahassee with experience in transportation concurrency and traffic impact studies, told NEBA members that a mobility fee would allow developers to know up front what fees are required for projects.
This is in contrast to the impact and concurrency process where fees were often determined through negotiations based on various factors.
Dantin voiced concern about the impact of higher mobility fees on small businesses.
Dantin was also critical of the recent City of Tallahassee reorganization which did away with the public works department and placed responsibilities with different utility departments. Noting that most other cities have public work departments, Dantin said the reorganization has resulted in communication problems in the process that addresses transportation issues.
Dantin said that a popular critique from developers about the impact and concurrency process was that fees where seldom allocated to specific projects and would sometimes go unspent while transportation needs went unaddressed.
She argued that the mobility fee structure should include a process to allocate funds to specific projects identified to address transportation problems.
Jonathan B. Paul, a transportation planning expert with more than 18 years of experience working in the government, university, and private sectors, explained that mobility fees could be used for transportation options that go beyond road construction.
As examples, he spoke of mobility fees subsidizing Uber and Lyft services in Altamonte Springs, Florida and autonomous transit vehicles, which are being considered in Gainesville.
Mr. Paul is currently working on developing a proposed mobility fee plan for Leon County.
Mr. Paul also addressed the concerns about a mobility fee impact on small businesses by stating that an efficient transportation system would benefit all businesses.
When asked about the number one traffic issue in Leon County, Paul said that more could be done with a number of intersections around town.
Ms. Dantin agreed, and said that minor improvements at intersections can have an immediate impact on traffic flow. But Dantin said it takes too long to get the projects through the approval process.