NEW PORT RICHEY — A proposed financing plan for new school construction in Pasco County unfairly shifts higher costs to apartment building owners, says the regional trade group for multifamily housing.
Mark C. Ogier, representing the Bay Area Apartment Association, renewed the call for a new sales tax to pay for school construction instead of relying on higher impact fees assessed on newly built homes and apartments.
"Schools are a big part of the community, and the whole community should be paying for that through taxes,'' Ogier told the Pasco Development Review Committee last week.
Ogier's comments, however, failed to sway the Development Review Committee, consisting of Pasco County government's top administrators and representatives of the Pasco Economic Development Council and Pasco School District. The panel voted 4-0 to send a proposal to raise impact fees to county commissioners for their consideration.
The Pasco School Board is seeking to increase impact fees on new home construction to raise $121 million over the next 10 years for additional schools needed to accommodate a growing population. Until last week's Development Review Committee meeting, most of the public debate had centered on the size of the fee for standalone single-family homes. The current fee is $4,876, but the proposed increase would tier the assessment based on the size of the house. If commissioners approve, the fee would range from $7,540 up to $12,028 per single-family home. Commissioners previously declined to tie the size of the proposed fee increase to a sales tax referendum, as a citizens advisory panel had suggested.
Ogier, however, took issue with the percentage increase assigned to new apartments. Under the formula, fees for multifamily units would increase from $1,874 currently to $5,295 per apartment, a 184 percent jump that Ogier called "very troubling to our association and our industry.'' He quoted statistics, without identifying the source, saying each 100 apartments house just 13 children ages 6 to 17.
"Eighty-seven percent of newly constructed apartments have no school-age kids,'' he said.
The Pasco School District's impact fee study, prepared by consultants TischlerBise Inc. of Maryland, offered significantly higher numbers. It used the residential addresses of students enrolled during the 2014-15 school year and matched them with tax parcel information to determine if students lived in homes, town homes, mobile homes or apartments.
That data revealed a so-called student-generation rate of 23.5 children per 100 apartments, a rate 81 percent higher than the trade group's figures. By contrast, each 100 single-family homes produce nearly 40 school-age children, according to the TischlerBise study.
"I'm not sure how you beat that. They live where they live,'' said County Administrator Dan Biles.
Public hearings before county commissioners are scheduled for 1:30 p.m. June 20 in New Port Richey and July 11 in Dade City.