Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pasco School Board wary of impact fee cuts

LAND O'LAKES — A proposal to slash education impact fees on new home construction is creating tension between two of Pasco County's largest employee bases:

Home builders. And the school system.

"We just want to get back up to being competitive and putting people to work," Mike Ryan, broker-owner of Samuelsen Builders Realty, told School Board member Cynthia Armstrong on Tuesday after a meeting.

"I certainly understand the position of the builders. … I know we're talking about builder jobs," Armstrong replied. "But you also have to consider teacher jobs."

School Board members do not oppose cutting the fees, but they want to ensure the cuts don't go too deep.

Armstrong noted that education impact fees generate about $4 million annually that help pay off the district's bond debt incurred by the construction of new schools to handle growth, including Fivay High and John Long Middle.

If there aren't enough impact fee dollars to cover those debt payments, she said, the district must siphon money away from the general revenue fund, the source of employee pay and benefits, among other things.

With the district already facing operating budget cuts up to $60 million, board members say they can ill afford losing any more money.

Ryan, who ran unsuccessfully for School Board in 2010, said he understands that concern. That's why he has pressed his construction colleagues not to clamor for complete elimination of the $4,800-per-new-home education impact fee, just a reduction of it.

"There are people who wanted to suspend them altogether," he said. "We didn't support that."

Now it's up to School Board members to try to persuade the County Commission not to go too far. Commissioners set the impact fees on new construction and have already agreed to slash fees in other categories, such as roads, parks and libraries.

"The County Commission can do anything it wants to do. We already know that," School Board member Steve Luikart said. "We all want a better community. Hopefully, we can work together to get that."

The School Board held a special session on Tuesday to prepare for its inevitable meeting with commissioners to talk impact fees. For the most part, they told staff to gather plenty of facts and figures to bolster their case that any fee reduction be measured against potential costs to the district, the county's largest employer.

Among other things, they asked for:

• The total amount of money the county collected in impact fees since inception.

• The balances remaining in each impact fee fund.

• A list of approved developments, including type and number of residences approved, the number already built, and the phases and build-out dates for each.

Armed with the information, the board figured it could make a more convincing case for a limited reduction. Members called a workshop on impact fees for 1:30 p.m. March 21, in advance of a joint meeting with the commission.

They stressed that they do not oppose cutting impact fees.

"I understand the bigger picture in the county," School Board member Alison Crumbley said. "People in construction have suffered."

But they also made clear that they have other interests, too, primarily maintaining district finances so they don't harm programs or employees. United School Employees of Pasco president Lynne Webb cast the issue in stark terms:

"I cannot see putting the success of home builders ahead of the success of students," she told the board.

The board has asked superintendent Heather Fiorentino to meet with County Administrator John Gallagher to establish a joint School Board-County Commission meeting to discuss impact fees. That meeting is not expected to take place before March 28.

Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at or (813) 909-4614. For more education news, visit the Gradebook at

Pasco School Board wary of impact fee cuts 03/08/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 8, 2011 7:28pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Bar review: Cheap drinks do fine at the Joint in St. Petersburg

    Bars & Spirits

    The Tyrone area of St. Petersburg is a little light on drinking spots, so the locals must have been happy when a long-running neighborhood spot — formerly Donk's Sports Tavern and Double J's Sports Bar — reopened earlier this year as the Joint.

    Patrons sit at the bar in the Joint in St. Petersburg.
  2. Local Craft Beer of the Week: Fireberry Tea Ale, Sea Dog Brewing Co.

    Bars & Spirits

    Clearwater's Sea Dog Brewing Co. doesn't get enough credit. Most craft beer drinkers familiar with the near-ubiquitous Sea Dog and Shipyard brands, which have been brewed in Maine since the early '90s, erroneously conclude that the Clearwater location is more of the same. But this location, opened in 2013, features its …

    Justin Grant/Special to tbt*
  3. Epilogue: Snooty, 69, a breed apart from other manatees (w/video)


    New York City has the Statue of Liberty. San Francisco has the Golden Gate Bridge. St. Louis as the Arch.

    And for 68 years, Bradenton had Snooty.

    Aquarium curator Carol Audette touches noses with Snooty the manatee in 2001 at the South Florida Museum. Snooty was 53 then. [Times 2001]
  4. Verizon is back: Unlimited data is boosting subscriptions


    After posting surprising losses among cellphone subscribers earlier this year, Verizon is back. The wireless carrier said Thursday that it has added 358,000 phone subscribers over the past several months, blowing analyst expectations out of the water and showing that its unlimited data plans are helping to keep …

    Verizon said Thursday that it has added 358,000 phone subscribers over the past several months, blowing analyst expectations out of the water and showing that its unlimited data plans are helping to keep customers loyal.
(Associated Press]
  5. Director: Jameis Winston is most charismatic 'Hard Knocks' QB


    TAMPA — The Bucs' Hard Knocks life has already begun. HBO and NFL Films' behind-the-scenes documentary series of an NFL training camp — this season featuring the Bucs — started filming even before training camp began. That means Matt Dissinger, the show's director, is already the hardest working …

    Jameis Winston (3) lifts a victorious arm after the Bucs beat the San Francisco 49ers in October at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times ]