Sunday, November 12, 2006

Pay to Learn

Story last week in the DesNews about the efforts of school districts, some cities and citizens to get the state legislature to authorize impact fees for schools.

I have long thought if cities, counties and special districts can use impact fees to help build necessary new infrastructure, schools should be allowed the same. But given the atmosphere we've been in over the past couple of years regarding development issues in the legislature, it may be suicide to bring those fees up now. Impact fees have been subject to a lot of displeasure and threats by certain legislators, at one point a few years ago nearly losing them. The fees were saved when certain accomodations were made, with the implicit understanding that they would be left alone. So to have them brought up now again may endanger the fees the fees in general. We'll have to see, as this effort is not being led by local governments but by the school districts.

Envision Utah founding chair Robert Grow has raised another interesting issue with regard to school impact fees: by allowing them to be implemented, are we sending the message that paying for education is up to all those new people, that long-time residents have only a minimal role in helping to provide education? Some interesting implications and thoughts here.

6 Comments:

At 8:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As I’m sure everyone knows, impact fees simply get passed on to homebuyers. I too agree that this places a burden on new members of the community and not existing ones.

The other problem with impact fees is proving to the development community that all of their fees were actually applied to infrastructure. Usually, the money is not spent for several years and by that time, developers have moved on to other projects.

The 800 pound gorilla in the room is the question “Why don’t those who have more children shoulder a greater portion of the burden since they are the ones who are creating the need”?

As a long time resident of Utah, I already know the answer to this one, but I believe it is important to continue bringing it up in order to prevent the obvious from being forgotten.

 
At 7:34 AM, Anonymous Jeremy said...

I agree with anonymous that more of the burden for the cost of educating Utah's kids should be placed on the shoulders of those who are having the kids (my third kid should arrive any day now). That said...I think impact fees are a great way of passing the burden to those who should be bearing it. Much of the new construction being done in Utah is for newer or growing families. As an appraiser in a northern Utah county's assessor office I have some familiarity with the extent and composition of local new residential development.

It just seems fair for developers (and I include buyers of new homes in this category since the fees are always passed on to new home buyers) to be required to pay a larger share of the cost for the required infrastructure necessitated by their new developments.

I haven't thought a lot about this topic but my first instinct is to support the idea of lots of impact fees for new development. I'm no expert...it would be interesting to hear more from Sommerkorn on this topic. Political pragmatism may be the biggest obstacle to such a policy.

 
At 10:28 AM, Anonymous Jon Ellsworth said...

I don't agree with the idea of having those who have kids, pay for schools. The implications of that idea are all negative.

1- The implications that the community does not support education in the community, except when they have children to put through the schools- and then it's only out of necessity.

2- Such an idea ostracizes families from the rest of the community. Schools should be a means of community cohesiveness, a center for education and collaboration.

Is that the obvious?

Impact fees are a great idea when passed to certain developers and builders as a sort of de facto UGB or statement saying "bad growth hurts Utah, and you feel it, too."

 
At 10:28 AM, Anonymous Jon Ellsworth said...

I don't agree with the idea of having those who have kids, pay for schools. The implications of that idea are all negative.

1- The implications that the community does not support education in the community, except when they have children to put through the schools- and then it's only out of necessity.

2- Such an idea ostracizes families from the rest of the community. Schools should be a means of community cohesiveness, a center for education and collaboration.

Is that the obvious?

Impact fees are a great idea when passed to certain developers and builders as a sort of de facto UGB or statement saying "bad growth hurts Utah, and you feel it, too."

 
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