BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County is one step closer to seeing the return of school impact fees.
By 3-1, Hernando School Board members on Tuesday accepted a newly completed impact fee study and directed staffers to create a resolution to County Commissioners to accept the proposed fee schedule.
Under the recommendations, the resolution would ask commissioners to approve a one-time fee of $6,988 on new single-family homes.
There's still a long way to go before the fees are restored in Hernando.
On Nov. 5, the School Board will need to formally vote to send the resolution to the County Commission. The county will then set up public hearings on the matter. Commissioners will need to vote on whether to adopt the fees — and at what amount.
Impact fees, which are one-time levies on new home construction, are used to pay for the cost of school district growth.
On Tuesday, Hernando board members listened to a presentation on the impact fee study.
Growth is coming to the district, according to the study.
Enrollment projections show student population increasing by nearly 3,300 students by the 2023-24 school year, including six consecutive years of greater than 1 percent growth, the study found.
In the next 10 years, the district expects it will need to spend $30 million on school expansion or additions, $10 million on new technology needs and $110 million on debt service payments, all of which can be paid by impact fees.
The school impact fees, if adopted at the proposed levels, are estimated to bring in $61.2 million between 2013 and 2022, according to the study.
Superintendent Lori Romano said the district has significant costs down the road — and that the money will need to come from somewhere.
"If it doesn't come from impact fees, it's going to need to come from sales tax or ad valorem," she said. "That's the decision."
Board members discussed the politically-charged topic for about an hour on Tuesday.
Board chairman Matt Foreman made his opposition to the fees clear from the outset, but conceded he was outnumbered on the issue.
"One of my big concerns is collecting money and building things that we don't need with that money," he said
The most contentious moment of the meeting came when it came to deciding whether to send Commissioners a resolution with a specified fee schedule.
Board member John Sweeney initially didn't want to specify the numbers in the resolution. But Ron Pianta, the assistant county administrator for planning and development, said the commission needed that direction:
"If you do not make a recommendation, you're asking the County Commission to set that fee level," he said. "I do not think that they are going to be willing to do that."