Pasco School board might use impact fees to cut bond cost

By Ty Beaver, Tri-City HeraldJanuary 9, 2013 

The Pasco School Board is considering using impact fees collected on new residential construction in Pasco to help reduce the cost of its proposed $46.8 million bond.

The fees could reduce the bond's cost by about $1 million, according to district officials at the board's Tuesday night meeting. That's only about 2 percent of the bond amount, but board members indicated they supported the concept.

"I like the idea; I think we're showing the public we're reducing the impact to their taxes," said board member Rubn Peralta.

The bond will go before voters in early February. If approved, it would build two new elementary schools, an early learning center and pay for a number of other improvements and projects throughout the district.

The impact fee went into effect in mid-April in Pasco, after the school board and city council signed off on it. It charges a $4,700 fee for a single-family home and $4,525 per unit in multifamily construction. As of the end of the November, the district has collected $768,688 from the fees, and that is estimated to reach $1 million by the time the fees would be used to reduce the bond.

District officials have said the fees are necessary to keep up with growing student enrollment.

About 400 to 500 students are added to the district per year, as many students as fill a typical elementary school.

Assistant Superintendent John Morgan said impact fees help the district but can never replace the need for bonds. However, he and other district officials said they can be used to help reduce the effects of bonds on taxpayers.

"It would reduce the burden for all taxpayers across the board," said Superintendent Saundra Hill.

Board Chairwoman Sherry Lancon and Ryan Brault also spoke in favor of the idea, along with Peralta. No vote was taken Tuesday night but it will be brought back to the board in the future, depending on the bond vote. Brault asked administrators to see if other districts have also done this before.

Also Tuesday:

w The board appointed four people to write statements in support of and in opposition to the proposed bond for the voter's pamphlet.

John Sawyer, Mike Miller and Valerie Moffitt were appointed to write the pro statement, while Roger Lenk was appointed to write the con statement.

Hill said the district received late notice from the Franklin County auditor to appoint individuals to the task but still sought volunteers to write the statements.

The district can appoint three people to write each statement. Only five people submitted applications for the positions, Hill said. A fifth candidate from Richland was not recommended for approval to write a statement because that person did not indicate they had a strong conviction either for or against the bond.

"He told me he'd just finished a persuasive writing class and he felt he could represent either position really well," Hill said.

The statements are due to the county Friday. Each side will have the opportunity to provide rebuttal statements after the initial position statements are reviewed by county officials.

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