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Impact fees rise less than expected in Pasco
Instead of 140 percent higher, it'll be 106 percent, officials say.
By JEFFREY S. SOLOCHEK, Times Staff Writer
Published December 26, 2007
LAND O'LAKES - The Pasco school district's request to increase impact fees on new homes could be less costly than originally projected.
A committee convened in November to review the charge on development determined that while the fee must rise to help the district cope with continued growth, it doesn't need to be 140 percent higher, as stated in July.
Rather, 106 percent will do just fine.
The new proposed fee of $8,983 per single family detached home wasn't necessarily the preference of the entire 10-person committee, which included both developers and parents, assistant superintendent Ray Gadd said.
It was, however, the best the group could agree upon as justified by independent studies, and not as much as the $10,477 per home that highlighted a report issued over the summer. The fees would be lower still for new condominiums, apartments and mobile homes.
The district's current impact fee for a single-family detached home is $4,356.
Gadd reported the committee's recommendation to the School Board last week. The documents were made public late Friday.
The updated report by consultant TischlerBise, issued Dec. 19, indicated that the financial impact on schools by each new home would be marginally lower than once thought at each of the three school levels.
The main difference was a decrease in the cost of land needed to build anticipated new schools. As the housing market has deflated, the price per acre has dropped from more than $80,000 to just over $70,000, the consultants reported.
That decrease would allow the district to ask for a lower impact fee increase.
But the rationale behind the need for a fee hike doesn't disappear, the consultants noted.
Pasco County remains among the fastest growing school district in the country, and one of just a handful in Florida to see enrollment rise this year. A pending agreement with the County Commission would set accepted capacity levels for elementary, middle and high schools.
The high schools already are near their level of 105 percent, and elementary schools are getting closer to their level of 115 percent. In some areas of the county, such as Wesley Chapel, they're above. That means the need for new schools continues.
Yet district finances are not flush these days. The state has estimated that sales tax revenue, which provides a large portion of the district operating and capital budgets, will decrease for the next two years.
And local revenue from existing impact fees and a locally approved 1 percent sales tax are down, too. Meanwhile, higher costs associated with opening new schools and increasing insurance premiums, among other things, are eating up any new money that the district receives.
So if the district is to continue meeting its capacity targets, and the county is to keep allowing new homes, school officials suggest the higher impact fee is needed.
The recommendation next goes to an advisory committee to the County Commission, before coming to the commission for a vote.