The Pasco County School Board is seeking to nearly double impact fees charged to new residential construction to help foot the bill for new schools, but a committee studying the issue wants to know about other possible sources of funding before making a recommendation.
There’s no doubt that Pasco County’s residential growth is generating increased enrollment, outpacing the school district’s ability to pay for new schools.
But, the 10-member School Infrastructure Funding Committee wants more information before making its recommendation to the Pasco County Commission on the school board’s proposed impact fee hikes.
The county commission, not the school board, has the authority to impose impact fees.
The school board justifies the need for an increase by pointing to an impact fee study it commissioned that was completed by Maryland-based consulting firm, Tischler Bise.
The impact fee study calls for increasing school impact fees on new homes from $4,828 to $9,174 for single-family detached; from $1,740 to $3,693 for single-family attached; from $2,843 to $5,634 for mobile homes; and, from $1,855 to $5,382 for multifamily.
Impact fees are expected to pay for new growth, and are assessed against new residential construction, excluding 55 and older communities.
Increased revenues from impact fees could be used to build new schools, add capacity to existing schools, purchase buses, furniture and fixtures.
Before deciding what it wants to do, the Pasco County Commission appointed the infrastructure funding committee to study the issue and bring back a recommendation.
That committee has met twice already and expects to have at least two more sessions before taking a vote on its recommendation.
At its most recent meeting, on April 5, the committee sought additional information on what schools the district expects to build next, how much land the district owns for schools and whether any of it could be sold to raise revenue now, and whether the district could pursue other sources of revenue, such as general obligation bonds or real estate transfer taxes.
Committee member Scott Sheridan asked if the school district could sell some of the land it has banked for future school sites, to help raise money to build schools now.
The school district isn’t opposed to selling some of its land, but even if it did, it would fall far short of addressing its funding needs, said Chris Williams, director of planning.
But, Williams also noted: “Most of these sites are in future developments. It might be 10 or 15 years in the future, but if I don’t secure my school sites up front, they’re not there for me later on.”
The school district doesn’t oppose using general obligation bonds to build schools, but that would require approval by voters and a referendum couldn’t be put on the ballot until 2018, said Ray Gadd, deputy superintendent for Pasco County Schools.
A real estate transfer tax is another potential source of revenue, but the idea has been broached twice with members of the local legislative delegation and rejected both times, said David Goldstein, chief assistant county attorney.
Goldstein noted an impact fee increase could be adopted with the provision of reducing it, if revenue became available from a general obligation bond or another source.
Committee member Jennifer Motsinger said the committee needs to know what sources of revenue might be available beyond merely doubling impact fees.
“We’re trying to understand what the sources are, so we can help give you some ideas on recommendations on school funding or the capital plan,” she said.
Another committee member asked for a breakdown of how much a new residence must pay in impact fees.
That breakdown is among the items expected to be discussed at the group’s next meeting set for April 18, 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
The committee also has scheduled another meeting, April 26, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Both sessions are open to the public and will be at Rasmussen College, 18600 Fernview St., Rooms 102 and 103, in Land O’ Lakes.
Published April 12, 2017