Education

School impact fees not going up any time soon

Edward Goff speaks on impact fees during public comment at a Manatee County Commission meeting in this file photo. Goff has questioned the necessity of an additional study before the county will raise the school impact fees to 100 percent.
Edward Goff speaks on impact fees during public comment at a Manatee County Commission meeting in this file photo. Goff has questioned the necessity of an additional study before the county will raise the school impact fees to 100 percent. gjefferies@bradenton.com

Although the School Board of Manatee County voted to reinstate impact fees to 100 percent of a consultant’s recommendation in December, district officials say a new study is necessary before the fees can be levied.

Due to several major changes within the district, including the passage of the half-cent sales tax extension, a $150 million bond being released in March and plans for building a new high school in Parrish, district officials believe a 2015 TischlerBise study setting the fees may be obsolete and ought to be updated before the percentage collected is raised.

“The law requires that the impact fee be based on the most localized and current data available,” said Mike Pendley, executive planner for the district.

Board members voted to raise the fees at their Dec. 13 meeting, and the district passed the resolution to the county to decide whether to amend the ordinance. The county did not feel comfortable moving forward with the increase without an updated study, according to an email from Pendley to Deputy Superintendent Ron Ciranna.

With an updated study, board approval of the study, a second resolution to raise fees, a county ordinance and a 90-day waiting period all necessary for the fee to be raised, it isn’t likely developers will be paying the 100 percent rate until this fall at the earliest.

The fees are collected on newly constructed residential dwellings and can be used to help pay for school construction that adds capacity.

(It) isn’t doing anyone a favor. It’s what’s required by law.

Mike Pendley, executive planner for the district

Manatee Schools suspended collecting impact fees in 2009, but in 2015 the school board voted to reinstate the fees on a graduated schedule. The fees were to increase to 100 percent of the recommended fees automatically in April 2018, but due to major construction projects in the works, board members wanted to accelerate the process.

“We need this money now,” board chairman Charlie Kennedy said at a December meeting

Developers are currently paying 50 percent of the total fee, and in April they will begin paying 75 percent for one year. The schools have collected $3.4 million since reinstating the fees.

Ed Goff, one of the most active voices in favor of reinstating the fees to 100 percent, said the additional study is not necessary.

“When impact fee studies are done the data is projected forward based on the best information available at the time of the study. It is not unusual for the actual data to be different than the projected data,” Goff said. “In fact, it is probable that the fees are low-balled to make sure the rates are not too high.”

Pendley said the county is simply obeying state statute.

“(It) isn’t doing anyone a favor,” Pendley said. “It’s what’s required by law.”

The district will host an information session on impact fees this spring, and the new study will be presented to the board in May. The updated study will cost $27,430.

Ryan McKinnon: 941-745-7027, @JRMcKinnon

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