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Monday, Mar 30, 2015

School board calls for fee talks

Jeff Schmucker Hernando Today
Published:   |   Updated: May 7, 2013 at 06:07 PM

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School board members have mixed feelings about the possibility of the county again implementing impact fees and are asking for a joint meeting with county commissioners over the matter.

During Tuesday's workshop, school board members learned that the district missed out on roughly $518,000 in the fees had county commissioners not suspended them last November.

An impact fee is a one-time charge on new development to help pay for county roads, parks and other infrastructure.

School district staff reported that the money collected could have gone toward capital projects in the district, such as expansion of some of the schools to make way for possible increases in student population.

But Vice Chairman Matt Foreman said he isn't sure re-implementing the fees are the best thing for the county.

While staff members argue that doing away with the fees for one year failed to stimulate construction and development, he said it's a fallacy to say that only developers, and not residents, are somehow hit with the added cost.

"I've been told by a hospital administrator — that hospitals don't pay those added fees, patients do," Foreman said. "So to say that consumers aren't affected by those fees isn't completely accurate."

But board member Dianne Bonfield said for decades she doesn't believe that developers of new construction have had to pay their fair share and added she would support bringing back the fees.

Superintendent Bryan Blavatt said that as the district's CEO, it's his job to find money for students wherever he can.

County commissioners are looking for direction from the school board and other entities that are affected by the fees as to whether they should be brought back.

Rather than issue a memorandum, board members agreed that a joint meeting should be called to discuss the matter further.

Blavatt told board members that he would set up that meeting as soon as possible, adding that the board members have time before the matter likely comes to a vote by county commissioners either in October or November.

Further public meetings by county commissioners are also slated in the coming months prior to their final vote. (352) 544-5271

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