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It might not be exactly what Levy School Board officials wanted, but a compromise at least has the new school impact fee ordinance on board.
School Board members held a joint meeting with the Levy County Commissioners at the school administration building on Jan. 8 to finalize and OK the plan.
While many thought it would just be a formality, the school impact fee plan almost died when county commissioners Tony Parker, Nancy Bell and Lilly Rooks failed to support it.
Twice, commissioner Danny Stevens made motions to approve it. Twice, no one would back him.
School Board members, financial officer Bob Clemons and Superintendent Clifton Norris were taken back by the lack of support.
They rallied to the occasion and fought for a compromise to save the night.
Clemons pointed out that if the plan died, the study done by outside firm Urbanomics, who did the blueprint for the ordinance, would no longer be effective.
"After a certain period of time, the study is no longer good,"he said. "We spent $35,000 on the study. We'd have to do it again and spend even more taxpayers' money."
"We'd hate to walk away without anything,"Board member Frank Etheridge added.
"A discounted fee reviewed annually is something," Norris said. "At least we'd have the ordinance in place."
"It's paying fair share for added burden,"Clemons said. "Our only alternative is to borrow money."
The school impact fee will be imposed on any new residential houses, mobile homes or townhouses. Impact fees are not retroactive.
The Urbanomic study, done two years ago, gave Levy School officials estimates on what the impact fees would be.
Those figures were $4,083 for single family, $3,185 for mobile home and $2,082 for multi-family.
Clemons thought Levy Schools were being much more than fair by discounting those figures by a whopping 70 percent. That came out to $1,225 for single family, $956 for mobile home and $625 for multi-family.
Still, Parker, Bell and Rooks thought that imposing another impact fee would be too much.
The county commissioners just recently passed their own impact fee on new construction.
"Enough is enough,"Bell said. "Some people have two jobs just to get by. I say no."
"The economy's bad,"Parker added. "The timing's not right."
Stevens spoke up, reminding people that the school impact fee would not burden existing residents. It would be there when future developments popped up.
"I'm gonna walk out on a limb and make the motion to pass it,"Stevens said.
No one would second.
After more discussion, including talk of the proposed hospital in Chiefland and power plant in Inglis, Stevens again made the motion.
That's when talk began of a compromise and further shaving of the fees.
The figure moved to an 80 percent discount of the Urbanomic recommendation – $816.60 for single family, $637 for mobile home and $416.40 for multi-family dwelling.
County Commission chair Sammy Yearty urged his fellow commissioners to reconsider.
The motion was made a third time. This time Rooks seconded and it passed 4-0.
The new school impact fees will be advertised before going into effect on May 1.
Clemons said school impact fees would be applied when a builder goes for permitting. The county would be in charge of collecting such fees.
Monies raised from the impact fees are put into a separate trust account. The money can only be used for growth-related needs such as land acquisition, construction, furniture and busses.