Sunday, April 22, 2018
Education

Hernando School Board backs study of impact fee

BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County School Board members voted 4-1 Tuesday night to move forward with the educational impact fee study needed before county officials consider whether to reinstate the levy on new construction.

The vote came as no surprise. It just took a little longer than expected.

The School Board initially voted on the issue in December, tying 2-2, with board member Cynthia Moore absent. Superintendent Bryan Blavatt tried bringing it back in January but was blocked by a procedural issue. It landed on Tuesday's agenda as a last-minute addition — and despite the objections of board Chairman Matt Foreman.

The study, which will be conducted by Tindale-Oliver & Associates, will cost $39,899 and is projected to take about five months.

The School Board will pay roughly $27,450, while the county will cover about $12,450 of the cost.

Board members voted Tuesday not only to do the study, which will calculate an appropriate fee, but also to do an enhanced study, providing additional analysis.

The district said it will not have to tap into the general fund to pay for the study because of lower costs than previously anticipated.

But even a lack of money might not have stopped it.

In the middle of Tuesday afternoon's board workshop, where the study was first discussed, Moore offered to help pay for it.

"I'd be glad to give part of my salary," she said.

That won praise from board member Dianne Bonfield.

"That was truly one of the most noble gestures I've seen put forth on this board," she said. "Thank you."

Foreman said that because the issue had already been voted on at a previous meeting, the board — in order to abide by proper procedures — should have put off the vote until its next meeting.

But that didn't fly with some of the other board members.

"You need a motion to rescind," Foreman said. "That's all you need at the meeting today. Then it goes on the next one."

"Actually, we can put it on the meeting today," John Sweeney countered. "We've done this before."

The measure was eventually added to the board's evening agenda.

Gus Guadagnino, the board's newest member, switched his vote Tuesday and supported the study. Only Foreman voted against it.

Guadagnino said he had never been opposed to impact fees, which help pay for infrastructure to support growth; he just didn't want the school district to have to pay for the study.

"The builders and Realtors were the ones that really benefited from it," he said.

Once he saw the lower price tag, he said, he changed his mind.

And he was the first to propose doing the enhanced study — "going the whole hog," in his words.

He said he believes it will give the district more ammunition to document its needs to the public.

Danny Valentine can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 848-1432. Tweet him @HernandoTimes.

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