Pasco council deadlocks on school district facilities plan

By Geoff Folsom, Tri-City HeraldApril 21, 2014 

The Pasco City Council couldn't agree Monday on an update to the Pasco School District's facilities plan but the failure to pass it might have no impact.

The council voted 3-3 on a motion to adopt the school district's updated plan into the city's comprehensive land use plan. The tie vote means the current plan stays in place.

Previously, a motion to table the item until Councilman Mike Garrison returns also ended in a 3-3 deadlock.

Garrison could be out for up to a month while he recovers from joint replacement surgery, Mayor Matt Watkins said.

Councilman Al Yenney, who joined Tom Larsen and Bob Hoffmann in opposing the plan, said he did not like that it continued to include a $4,700 impact fee on new homes being built in Pasco. The district charges the fees to developers to help offset the cost of new facilities caused by growth.

But Yenney said it is unfair for the fees to be charged indirectly to people who buy new houses but not to people who buy existing houses.

"I really appreciate what the school district has done. I just don't think the impact fee is quite the way to do it," he said.

But something has to be done to help with the 600 new children projected to enter Pasco schools each year over the next five years, Councilwoman Rebecca Francik said.

"We have got to do something to help build new classrooms," she said. "This seems like the fairest method we have come up with."

The school district also will seek impact fees from developers of new subdivisions on a case-by-case basis if the standard fee isn't in place, Watkins said. Those fees could be higher than what the city charges.

The revised plan would add updated enrollment figures, as well information related to voters' approval of a school bond in 2013 into the city's land use plan. But impact fees remain the same.

Also Monday:

-- The council voted 4-2 to hire architect Terence Thornhill of Pasco to develop a plan to build a new police station near City Hall for $8 million.

Costs on a previous plan had ballooned to $14 million, which couldn't be covered with a three-tenths of a percent public safety sales tax. The city is paying $24,500 for an initial review and will pay an additional $550,000 for a full design if architects determine they can go forward with the project. Hoffmann and Larsen opposed the move because Thornhill was asked to bid on the project after an initial deadline for proposals had expired.

-- The council named Lauran Wang to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, while reappointing Jennifer Martinez, Thomas Davenport and Roberto Garcia.

-- The council reappointed Craig Maloney and Leonard Dietrich to the Pasco Public Facilities District Board.

-- Geoff Folsom: 509-582-1543; gfolsom@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @GeoffFolsom

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