Hernando School Board member Matt Foreman believes county commissioners wasted nearly $40,000 in public money. He is right.
He said commissioners gave the school district the runaround and failed to give due consideration to a consultant's report calling for a higher impact fee to build classrooms and upgrade school technology. He is right again.
Foreman said commissioners did a disservice to the school board and the community at large by failing to explain the rationale behind their 4-1 vote to continue a moratorium on school impact fees. He called such action disingenuous. Who can disagree?
''If you want economic development, if you want community revitalization, if you want higher paying jobs, then your decisions have to reflect it,'' Foreman said at the close of a school board workshop Tuesday afternoon. "Education is a community value of the utmost importance so I would ask all of our fellow elected officials and others in the community not to trivialize education by playing politics with educational dollars.''
Foreman aimed his critique at Hernando County Commissioners Wayne Dukes, David Russell, Jim Adkins and Nick Nicholson, who voted Feb. 11 to kill an impact fee request from the school board and to extend the current moratorium for another year. The vote came even though the county contributed $12,000 toward the $40,000 impact fee study that commissioners had requested in late 2012.
Foreman stopped short of saying commissioners acted in bad faith, but not by much.
Just one problem: Foreman's indignation is misplaced. He doesn't disagree with the outcome, just how commissioners reached their decision. You see, Foreman, too, opposes the philosophy of charging impact fees to finance school construction. He voted against hiring a consultant to compile the study and voted against a resolution asking commissioners to accept the report and adopt an education impact fee of almost $7,000 per single-family home.
The missing ingredient in Foreman's critique was a dose of self-reflection. If he wants to champion education, economic development, community reinvestment and higher-wage jobs, then, he, too, should support school impact fees — the one-time charges on new residential construction to pay for service demands triggered by growth.
Are county commissioners disingenuous? Absolutely, but, in this instance, Matt Foreman isn't far behind.
C.T. Bowen is editor of editorials for the Hernando Times and Pasco Times.