The Pasco County School Board didn’t get the school impact rate increases initially recommended by a consultant hired by the school district, and the building community didn’t get the rate it was pushing — but Pasco County Commissioners have agreed to support higher impact fees for school construction.
During a July 11 public hearing, commissioners committed to a proposed ordinance that calls for gradually increasing the rates — over a three-year period, with the first increase set to kick in on Jan. 1, 2018.
Commissioners have scheduled a final vote on the issue for Aug. 15.
By the time the rates reach their final amount in 2020, they will represent 92 percent of what the school district’s consultant had recommended, according to David Goldstein, chief assistant county attorney for Pasco County.
Achieving the compromise required a flurry of last-minute activity between representatives for the school district and the county, Goldstein said.
Goldstein and Ray Gadd, deputy superintendent for Pasco County Schools worked out details over the weekend prior to the commission’s meeting.
“Ray called me at 7 o’clock on a Saturday morning and said, ‘If I’ve got to work 24 hours a day trying to resolve this, you’ve got to wake up and help me resolve it, too,” Goldstein said.
Gadd added: “We’ve been working on this quite a bit from Friday night ‘til Monday afternoon,” including a Sunday morning call that involved the district’s finance chief, its impact fee consultant and others.
“We didn’t get everything we wanted, nor did the builders,” Gadd said.
There were other stakeholders who didn’t get everything they wanted, either.
Representatives of the multifamily industry failed to persuade commissioners to reduce the proposed fee increases for multifamily dwellings.
Parents were unable to convince commissioners to adopt the full fees that the school district’s consultant had recommended and to make them effective this year.
“Why should the burden fall on our children?” Doug Wood, of Wesley Chapel asked. “The teachers and the children should not have to suffer.”
And, even though the Tampa Bay Builders Association agreed to the compromise, it wants the school board to continue looking for a broad-based revenue source to help tackle the issue.
“These are significant increases,” said Mark Spada, president of the Tampa Bay Builders Association told commissioners.
“Pasco’s school impact fees will be among the highest in Florida and in the nation, and the total of all Pasco impact fees will be among the highest in the nation.”
Spada also noted: “Increasing fees increases the price of a home. The higher the price, the less people can afford to buy homes.
Stewart Gibbons chaired the School Funding Infrastructure Committee, created by commissioners.
He described the compromise as a fair and reasonable solution.
However, he noted, “this is a difficult discussion because it’s an important discussion; I think we all know that.
“It is very complex,” he said, noting “there are just a lot of components to this.”
“I do encourage, as we did during the committee discussions, seeking as many broad-based sources of funding as possible,” Gibbons said.
Commissioner Ron Oakley said, before the compromise was reached, he had determined that a reasonable amount would be about 75 percent to 80 percent of what the school board was asking for, and to begin the increase immediately.
“In the long run, I agree with this compromise,” Oakley said.
Commissioner Kathryn Starkey also supported the proposed increase. “I think there is nothing more important than a strong, healthy vibrant school district. That’s what makes a strong, healthy and vibrant community.”
Commissioner Jack Mariano said the compromise will improve the situation, but isn’t the entire solution.
Mariano would like to see commissioners unite with the school board and other stakeholders to seek more construction money from the state for schools.
Commissioner Mike Wells also supports the compromise.
“It’s been a great opportunity to work with the school board more closely,” Wells said.
Commission Chairman Mike Moore said the board is focusing on providing infrastructure that’s needed in the county.
As more students come into the county, more schools are needed, he said.
He asked commissioners if they were all in agreement to support the proposed rate schedule.
And, commissioners indicated they are.
“We’re at the point where enough is enough, and we’re ready to move forward as a board,” Moore concluded.
After the meeting, Pasco County Schools Superintendent Kurt Browning said he is pleased by the commission’s commitment.
Single-family detached: $4,828
Single-family attached: $1,740
Mobile home: $2,843
Proposed new rates
Effective Jan. 1, 2018
Single-family detached: $7,128
Single-family attached: $2,869
Mobile home: $4,377
Effective Jan. 1, 2019
Single-family detached: $7,728
Single-family attached: $3,111
Mobile home: $4,746
Effective Jan. 1, 2020
Single-family detached: $8,328
Single-family attached: $3,353
Mobile home: $5,114
Consultant’s recommended rate
Single-family detached: $9,028
Single-family attached: $3,634
Mobile home: $5,544
Published July 19, 2017