Schools ask county to freeze fees

cnudi@bradenton.comMarch 24, 2009 

BRADENTON — The Manatee County school board unanimously voted Monday to ask the county commission to suspend impact fees for schools.

School Superintendent Tim McGonegal told the board the district has a 15-year inventory of future school sites.

“School impact fees can be used for construction of new schools or purchase of new school sites,” he said.

So with the projected decline of student population and no need for new schools in the near future, McGonegal recommended the board request that the Manatee County Commission put a 12-month moratorium on school impact fees.

Impact fees are charged to developers to pay for the effect the new construction will have on roads, parks, public safety and schools.

Board member Robert Gause said he does not know how much a moratorium will help in stimulating new construction, “but it’s got to help some.”

Gause said the board can revisit its decision at the end of the year moratorium.

Board member Jane Pfeilsticker asked McGonegal what effect a bill that Sen. Mike Bennett introduced into the Legislature would have on the board’s action.

Bennett, R-Bradenton, was promoting legislation that would suspend impact fees for three years.

The superintendent said the bill would supersede the school board’s action if it became law.

Pfeilsticker also wanted to know if the preliminary five-year capital plan that was presented to the board earlier in the meeting included any impact fees.

Jim Drake, assistant superintendent of finances, said his figures were based on Bennett’s proposed three-year moratorium.

There were questions about when the suspension will take effect because McGonegal’s recommendation said July 1, but the county commission would have to approve it by April 1 because the county ordinance requires a 90-day waiting period before it takes effect.

McGonegal changed his recommendation to read “for 12 months starting July 1 or as soon thereafter.”

Impact fees, charged at the time a certificate of occupancy is issued, are usually passed on to homeowners.

A single-family, three-bedroom home in unincorporated Manatee County is levied an average of $17,500 in impact fees.

The school district’s estimated portion of the fees for single-family homes is about $6,200, the Bradenton Herald reported Drake saying.

On Wednesday, the Bradenton City Council will consider a similar impact fee moratorium in the city.

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