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Pasco School Board members not thrilled with tax proposals related to impact fee plan

New homes in the Starkey Ranch subdivision and others have prompted calls for higher school impact fees.

Times file photo

New homes in the Starkey Ranch subdivision and others have prompted calls for higher school impact fees.

19

April

A committee examining a Pasco County School Board request to increase impact fees on new homes has talked quite a bit about other sources of revenue instead.

Members have asked for additional information on a sales tax or property tax increase to cover at least some of the costs associated with new schools made necessary because of growth. Tax revenue that pays for such projects would offset any impact fee. 

At least two School Board members have suggested the committee is wasting its time looking down that path. 

"I can't find a single current resident of Pasco County, or taxpayer, that favors that idea," Board chairman Allen Altman said. "Overwhelmingly, our residents feel that impact fees should help pay for their part of the cost of growth."

Altman, an active proponent of the district's past sales tax initiatives in support of school projects, said he would not involve himself in any way with a tax referendum to support growth. He called the idea "grossly unfair" and said he hoped the County Commission would "think about the citizens of Pasco County that are already here" when any recommendations arrive.

The County Commission makes the final decision on impact fees. The School Board could call a referendum on a sales tax or general obligation bond sales without the commission's approval.

Board member Steve Luikart said he was "anti both of these" taxing ideas discussed by the advisory committee, which is comprised of five parents and five builder representatives.

"I'm not one who wants another tax," Luikart said. "Impact fees are placed there to help fund the impact on the community. I don't look at those as taxes."

Instead, he advocated language allowing for regular adjustments to the fees, so they don't fall so far behind the need. Pasco has not increased school impact fees in nearly a decade.

A draft ordinance includes provisions for the board to request annual revisions to the fees, based on current construction costs indices.

Board member Colleen Beaudoin said she did not want to comment before the committee makes its final recommendation.

During the committee's deliberations Tuesday, deputy superintendent Ray Gadd warned the group that the School Board had not considered any new tax proposals when reviewing the impact fees. "Ultimately the School Board would have to decide whether or not to pursue it," he noted.

Parent member Hugh Townsend added that the county had no guarantees that voters would support a tax increase, meaning any revenue from that idea might never come to fruition. He suggested that if home builders continue to build without covering the costs of needed schools to accommodate the incoming families, the school district had another option.

It could tell the newcomers that their children would attend schools on double session, Townsend said, and that their children could take buses to fill open seats across the county.

Parents fighting against revised attendance boundaries they argue favors new subdivisions over existing ones have argued much the same, so far to little effect.

The Pasco County School Infrastructure Funding Committee is scheduled to meet again April 26 at 10:30 a.m.

[Last modified: Wednesday, April 19, 2017 3:39pm]

    

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