Education / Schools

San Benito High trustees okay first reading of school impact fees policy

The board is scheduled to adopt the second reading on Oct. 26.

Editor’s note: This article was updated to clarify concerns by San Benito High School District that the article suggested the Board of Trustees  was going to adopt developer fees on Oct. 26. BenitoLink apologizes to for the confusion in this story and thank San Benito High School for clarifying the Trustees’s action. 

 

 

The San Benito High School Board of Trustees unanimously voted Oct. 12 to approve without discussion the first reading of a policy concerning school impact fees, also known as developer fees. Two readings are required for final adoption of the policy. The final reading and adoption is scheduled for Oct. 26. 

Adam Breen, public information officer for the district, said, “The purpose of the resolution was to approve a school facility needs analysis that authorizes the district to levy a developer fee for funding school facilities that are needed to accommodate growth from new development.” 

He went on to say that the developer fee is currently $1.75 per sq. ft. for residential development and 23 cents per sq. ft. for commercial construction. Previously, the district levied a fee of $1.59 per sq. ft. for residential development and 23 cents per sq. ft. for commercial construction. 

“The payment of developer fees is made by an applicant when a permit to build new residential or commercial buildings or expand residential buildings is issued,” Breen said. “In some cases, this is a developer and in other cases it may be a homeowner, but the fees are only paid as a result of construction or reconstruction activity. The fees are one-time and not paid on an ongoing basis. Developer fees for schools are similar to the mitigation fees charged by cities, counties and special districts to meet infrastructure needs created by new development.” 

Abraham Prado, interim director/planning manager for Hollister, said, “The City of Hollister collects school impact fees prior to issuance of a building permit and provides the school with the school impact fees collected. In the case of city impact fees, cities prepare reports that establishes the nexus between the imposition of a development impact fee and the estimated reasonable cost of providing the services and public facilities for which the fees will be charged.”  

On Jan. 19 the board took part in a workshop to discuss the possibility of building a new high school for 1,200 to 1,400 students, with the possibility of being expanded to accommodate 1,600 to 1,800 students. The potential price tag for the school is $123 million.

Breen said, “A new high school to accommodate growth is an eligible project.”

The district’s policy details existing statutory procedures for adoption and reporting of school impact fees on residents. Government code allows for qualifying school districts to impose three levels of fees on developments. Level 1 can raise funds for residential, commercial and industrial developments. Level 2 fees on residential developments only provide 50% of the cost of school construction and site costs, while level 3 fees, also on residential developments, are intended to provide 100% of those costs.

The district policy also states that before taking action to establish or increase a fee, the board must identify its purpose and determine a reasonable relationship between the fee’s use and the type of development project, as well as the need for the facility. 

Additionally, the board must determine a reasonable relationship between the amount of the fee and the cost or portion of the cost of the facility. Also, the superintendent or designee must mail a notice of the time and place of the meeting the public hearing will be held. 

According to the policy, before levying fees or prior to increasing them, the board will hold a public meeting. Letters would be mailed to the public at least 14 days prior to the meeting, which the district said it did prior to the Aug. 10 meeting when they adopted the school facility needs analysis (SFNA) and adopted a developer fee of $1.75.

Information on the anticipated amount of fees and other available funding sources, estimated cost of planning, land acquisition and school construction will be made available to the public through publication in a newspaper or posted in three conspicuous places at least 10 days prior to the hearing at which the board will adopt the resolution for levying the developer fees. 

After the adoption of the new impact fee policy, the SBHS board will apply to the State Allocation Board for new construction funding and determination of its eligibility to receive funds.

The district is required to adopt a school facility needs analysis  and provide it to the Hollister Planning Commission within 45 days. Then the city will meet with the trustees within 15 days. The analysis will not be adopted until it has been made available to the public for not less than 30 days.

SBHS trustee meetings are not recorded or streamed, so those interested in this or other agenda items will need to attend. At this time masks are still required. 

 

Related BenitoLink stories:

SBHS Trustees discuss construction of $165 million high school

San Benito High School projects costing $102 million near completion

Primary Election 2020: School Bond Measures L, M and R

Letter to the Editor: SBHS responds to school bond story

 

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John Chadwell

John Chadwell is a freelance photojournalist with additional experience as a copywriter, ghostwriter, scriptwriter, and novelist. He is a former U.S. Navy Combat Photojournalist and is an award-winning writer, having worked for magazine, newspapers, radio and television. He has a BA in Journalism and Mass Communications from Chapman University and graduate studies at USC Cinema School. John worked as a scriptwriting consultant, and his own script, "God's Club," was produced and released in 2016. He has also written eight novels, ranging from science fiction to true crime, which are sold on Amazon. To contact John Chadwell, send an email to: [email protected]