Commission waives school impact fees again

Schools have not collected impact fees on new development since 2011

The Marion County Commission has continued the moratorium on collecting impact fees for schools.

While local developers and builders likely applaud this, the commission’s vote was not done at their behest.

Rather, the request came from the School Board.

Impact fees are one-time assessments levied on new growth for a variety of infrastructure needs. The idea is for newcomers to offset the cost of those projects, such as roads or schools.

The County Commission, again at the request of the School Board, first suspended the collection of school impact fees in June 2011, during the depths of the Great Recession.

The moratorium has been periodically renewed and was set to expire this year on Dec. 31.

But two months ago, School Board Chairman Eric Cummings notified the County Commission that his board was willing to go without the revenue for another year.

Cummings wrote that the school district now has “ample capacity, at each school level, from a districtwide perspective.”

He added that there were “important nuances” to this outlook. “Generally,” he wrote, “surplus capacity exists for schools north of SR (State Road) 40. In schools south of SR 40, a number of instances of persistent overcrowding exist.”

But, “In the context of the coronavirus pandemic, the District anticipates reduced ‘in person’ school attendance for the 2020/21 school year,” which in turn should reduce the district’s funding from the state, as based on the Education Department’s formula.

“Given this expected data anomaly, and the previous trend of ample capacity, the Board’s consensus recommendation is for the BCC” – the County Commission – “to continue to suspend (not terminate)” the school system impact fee, Cummings wrote.

When commissioners implemented the initial suspension, the fee was $3,967 per single-family home. The fee varies by other forms of housing.

Marion County has added roughly 10,000 new single-family homes between 2012 and 2020, according to county property appraiser’s office records.

Between 2011 and 2016, suspending collection of the fees cost the school district a total of $13.7 million.

A county spokeswoman said officials stopped tracking the total in 2017.

Posted in Education, Government, News

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