Pasco School Board looks into impact fee increase
Citing continuing growth and dwindling resources, the Pasco County School Board is considering a request to more than double the current school impact fee charged on new home construction.
The current rate of about $4,800 on a single-family home was set a decade ago, and when county commissioner most recently revisited the amount in 2011, it was to look into cutting the fee. Only under pressure from residents and school officials did the commission relent.
But now, School Board members and district officials are making clear they need more to support new school construction made necessary by the latest population boom, which isn't expected to end soon. The maximum they could seek, according to their consultant's report, is $10,204 per single-family home.
What's the impetus?
State planners anticipate Pasco's school enrollment to rise by nearly 6,400 students in the next five years, a number that's widely viewed as conservative. Yet state capital projects funds, known as PECO, have shrunk, and the county's local sales tax for such projects is largely dedicated to renovation projects. The local property tax for capital, reduced by .5 mills a few years ago, primarily goes toward debt service on past projects.
Impact fees can be used as a revenue source to help pay for schools required because of the demands created by families in new homes. That demand looks clear, as new subdivisions are growing and schools in those areas already are crowded beyond capacity.
Many residents feeling the pinch of attendance zone revisions have loudly acknowledged the need to demand higher impact fees from the County Commission, which controls that charge.
District officials haven't said whether they'll recommend going after the full allowable amount, or some percentage of it. But after talking about a fee hike for more than a year, they're sure to make a request soon.
The School Board is scheduled to have a workshop on the impact fees at 4 p.m. Tuesday, and to consider approval of the impact fee study later in the evening.