Pasco County School Board members are asking the Pasco County Commission to significantly boost school impact fees charged against new residential construction.
The board voted on Dec. 20 to seek impact fees of $9,174 for single-family detached residences; $3,693 for single-family attached residences; $5,382 for multi-family dwellings; and $5,634 for mobile homes.
That compares to the current rates of $4,876.28 for single-family detached; $1,757.40 for single-family attached; $1,873.55 for multifamily; and, $2,871.43 for mobile homes.
In Pasco County, a school impact fee is assessed on the builder for the construction of every new home with the exception of 55 and older communities.
The theory behind impact fees is that new growth should pay for itself, instead of increasing the burden on existing residents.
Pasco County’s school impact fees have not increased since 2005, but continued residential growth in the county is generating increased student enrollment. The county initially adopted impact fees in 2001.
The new rates being proposed now are based on an impact fee study commissioned by the school board. The analysis was conducted by Tischler Bise, a consulting firm based in Bethesda, Maryland.
“We have a new impact fee study that is recommending that we impose a larger fee on housing construction in Pasco County,” Ray Gadd, deputy superintendent said, during the board’s Dec. 20 meeting.
“We’re in a county that’s in a very high-growth trend,” Gadd said.
“As you well know, from Wesley Chapel to Trinity and up (U.S.) Highway 41, the building industry in Pasco County is exploding,” he added.
Carson Bise, president of the Tischler Bise, who addressed the board also had held an impact fee workshop with board members before the evening meeting.
At the evening session, Bise said, “We’ve made some, what we think are rather conservative projections of students over the next five- to 10 years, based on the most recent building permit trend.
“However, I would argue that that building permit trend is likely to increase in the future.
“Just with this conservative growth estimate, we estimate over 5,200 new students over the next five years and almost 10,500 students over the next 10 years,” he said.
“To give you a better flavor, the average annual increase of students over the last four years has been about 1,400, and this year’s increase in new students was over 1,800.
“We expect this growth trend to continue.
“The district’s response to this growth, in addition to the two new schools that you have opening next year, which is Cypress Creek (Middle/High) and Bexley (Elementary), the district also has plans to open four additional schools over the next 10 years, which would add approximately 6,500 student seats.
“The cost of those schools is estimated at $196 million. So, it’s clear that substantial revenue is needed to fund the growth-related capacity,” Bise said.
The district doesn’t have enough money to pay for anticipated growth, the consultant added.
Increased revenues from impact fees could be used to build new schools, add capacity to existing schools, purchase buses, furniture and fixtures.
The school board cannot increase the fees because that authority rests with the Pasco County Commission, Bise said.
Pasco County Commission Chairman Mike Moore said the commission has not yet received a formal request to increase school impact fees from the school board.
He said he is willing to look at the issue and wants to form a committee.
Moore said he thinks the impact fee committee should be appointed by both the commission and the school board, and should have representatives from the housing industry, as well as parents.
He would like that committee to come up with a recommendation.
Moore also wants commissioners to have the opportunity to ask questions of the consultant who recommended the proposed increases.
The commission chairman also wants to find out more about the history of school impact fees in Pasco, as well as what the other sources of school funding are and how they are used.
He thinks that the issue is important enough that commissioners should consider having a workshop on the topic, to ensure they have enough time for questions and discussion.
Published January 4, 2017