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Why raising impact fees means better Hillsborough schools | Editorial
The county commission’s decision to raise impact fees for new homes is good for students and for tax fairness.
 
Workers laying concrete blocks for a home under construction in southern Hillsborough County. The Hillsborough school district will need dozens of new schools in the coming years to accommodate growth, most of them in south county. [SKIP O'ROURKE | Times (2012)]
Workers laying concrete blocks for a home under construction in southern Hillsborough County. The Hillsborough school district will need dozens of new schools in the coming years to accommodate growth, most of them in south county. [SKIP O'ROURKE | Times (2012)]
This article represents the opinion of the Tampa Bay Times Editorial Board.
Published March 6, 2020|Updated March 6, 2020

The decision was 14 years in the making—and it took eight minutes to complete. That speedy vote Wednesday by the Hillsborough County Commission reflected the broad benefit in raising fees on home construction to fund new schools in the fast-growing county.

The bipartisan 6-0 vote spoke to the consensus that quality schools are key to Hillsborough’s growth and the region’s quality of life. By raising the fee for the first time since 2006, Hillsborough is finally joining neighboring counties in asking new residents to pay more for the demands they are bringing onto the school system.

The vote was supported by Democratic and Republican commissioners alike, and a broad array of groups—from local builders and Realtors to classroom teachers, parents and activists - played a helpful hand in convincing the commission to take this necessary step. It’s unfortunate the board’s only no-show, Commissioner Stacy White, denied the commission an opportunity to give its unanimous blessing. White said Thursday he would have voted yes, which makes sense, given that 37 of the 38 new schools needed in the coming years are in his south and east county district.

Still, this was a good day and a shared victory, a parting accomplishment for the retiring schools superintendent, Jeff Eakins, and a welcome gift for his successor, Addison Davis, who takes over formally as superintendent July 1. Because of this wise decision, students will have better schools and stronger chances for success.

Editorials are the institutional voice of the Tampa Bay Times. The members of the Editorial Board are Times Chairman and CEO Paul Tash, Editor of Editorials Tim Nickens, and editorial writers Elizabeth Djinis, John Hill and Jim Verhulst. Follow @TBTimes_Opinion on Twitter for more opinion news.