It’s been almost 20 years since I began working with the Peninsula School Districtto adopt the city of Gig Harbor’s rstconstruction impact fee for schools. Since then I’ve heard one consistent theme. Whether it’s participating with PSD’s facilities planning committee, talking to constituents or listening to our schoolboard, the current calculation is insuf – cient for our needs.
Impact fees are charged to new devel- opment by cities and counties to help pay for the cost to government services generated by growth. The Legislature allowed local governments to charge developers under the Growth Manage- ment Act.
Using a formula adopted by the Pierce County Council, school districts calculate their capital needs generated by each new housing unit. The formula is careful to backoutothersourcesofcapitalrevenue like state funds or the share of payments made toward school bonds through prop-erty taxes. In our district the nal numberis $8,061. The unmet need is then reduced by half.
However, that rate is not what’s paid by new construction. Years ago, the county council established a maximum fee obliga-tion (MFO) which caps rates at $3,485 fora single-family residence. Because school district boundaries typically include terri- tory in cities and unincorporated Pierce County, the MFO is typically adopted within cities as well.
My proposal will increase the MFO by 50 percent to $5,228. That’s closer to the amount requested by our school districts, and to peer jurisdictions in King, Snohomish and Clark counties.
It’s important to state clearly that impact fees will not solve all our schools’ capital needs. Even if I could persuade my council colleagues to increase fees to
100 percent of the need to accommodate new growth, the clear majority of the capital needs in our schools would remain.
But at a time when we’re asking our constituents to support our schools, we owe them our best effort to exhaust every other available source of funds.
Pierce County Councilman, District 7 Gig Harbor