School board votes to delay impact fee collection

Eric Cravey
Posted 8/9/17

FLEMING ISLAND – Despite pleas from staff and Clay County School Superintendent Addison Davis, the school board voted to change the point of collection for its builders’ impact fees.

At its …

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School board votes to delay impact fee collection


FLEMING ISLAND – Despite pleas from staff and Clay County School Superintendent Addison Davis, the school board voted to change the point of collection for its builders’ impact fees.

At its Aug. 3 meeting, the board voted 4-1 with member Mary Bolla voting against the measure to move the collection point from the date the building permit is filed to the date the electricity is turned on for fee collection. Currently, the district receives an average of $471,546 in impact fees per month from builders.

In making his plea to the board, Jessie Spradley, governmental affairs director for the Clay Builders Council of the Northeast Florida Builders Association, said the proposal was not for the large corporate builders, but would provide some relief for the little guys.

“There are 59 builders that pulled permits last year in Clay County, of that, 48 of them built 10 or less homes. It’s that 48 that you’re helping, those local builders,” Spradley said.

The measure was placed on the agenda by School Board Chairman Janice Kerekes, who said she sought the action to be in line with the Board of County Commissioners forthcoming move to re-instate its transportation impact fee. As discussed at the BCC’s Aug. 8 meeting, the county commission is leaning toward the electricity collection date and targeting an October implementation. The school board, under state law, only makes recommendations to the County Commission regarding impact fees and cannot enforce impact fee collection on its own.

Spradley said builders want the fee to be collected when the actual impact occurs.

“That impact doesn’t occur until someone is actually living in that house. That would happen at [certificate of occupancy], unfortunately, there’s not a real way for the county to stop somebody from living in that house without a CO, but you’re probably not going to live in that house without electric, so that is why they’ve chosen that spot,” Spradley said addressing the board at its meeting at Fleming Island High’s Teacher Training Center.

Kerekes said she felt so strongly about the issue that she would pass the gavel to make the motion should a fellow board member not make a motion. Vice Chairman Carol Studdard made the motion and board member Betsy Condon seconded the motion.

“I just feel this is the right time because it is coming to our county commission and they’re wanting to reinstate the transportation impact fee…and I’d hate to see our impact fees be discontinued for any reason at all, so I think it’s important that we show support to the county commissioners and also that we are willing to accept the collection method that they are [accepting] and that’s really why it’s important,” Kerekes said.

Making her case to delay the measure, Bolla voiced concerns over the collection point change and how moving the date fees are collected would negatively impact cash flow targeted to pay for Elementary School Y now under construction in the Oakleaf area. She said she’d prefer the measure be delayed until 2018.

“It’s one of those situations where we’re trying to be financially fiscally sound and even a four-month delay when you’re talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars a month – that can make a huge difference to what we’re doing and I am totally for this. It happens to be 10 years since we built a new school. We’ve not had to deal with this question…the timing really stinks, sorry. I would like to see us do this, but I would like to put this off, like I said, until November of 2018,” Bolla said.

Michael Kemp, assistant superintendent for operations for the Clay County School District, raised similar concerns that Bolla mentioned. He said the timing is not the best.

“Now, I completely sympathize with the builders, it just so happens that we’re building a school and it’s a timing issue, but it is $471,546 that we had projected as a steady stream of revenue coming in for us to complete projects, including Elementary Y,” Kemp said.

He reminded Davis and the school board that he had been tasked with building the new elementary school on time and under budget and in comes this proposal that makes the money flow picture a tad murky.

“We’re going to get the money eventually. The money will come to us eventually and I absolutely support making a change in the fall of 2018, my concern with the task that you’ve given me Mr. Superintendent and the board is that we have to build Elementary Y on time and under budget, well actually before time and under budget, so we expect a temporary [certificate of occupancy] no later than July 1 of 2018,” Kemp said.

Weighing in on the measure, Davis said he would agree with Bolla and Kemp in delaying the measure until the bills are paid for the new school.

“To date from December 2016, we pulled I think 396 permits, and of those permits, it’s roughly around $2.9 million and this [measure] would push us back a little bit, therefore, it would kind of put us in a financial strain in reference to complete the build with money currently. It also, if we push this back four months, it will also could potentially hurt our cash flow that we currently have,” Davis said.

In other business:

The board adjourned its regular meeting to have a brief meeting as the Clay School Board Leasing Corp. in order to vote on refinancing certificates of participation, much like bonds, that were used to pay for schools built in the go-go growth period of the late 1990s and early 2000s. The district will save “a little over $566,000” in interest with the refinancing.

The board heard a proposal and gave support to a Clay County Education Association plan to have 40,000 children’s books donated to the school district’s Title I schools. CCEA President Renna Lee Paiva said the program calls for obtaining signatures from would-be volunteers, teachers, students and parents. The book distribution is targeted for Oct. 14 at Green Cove Springs Junior High.

The board held an unproductive 40-minute discussion on whether it should join a brewing statewide lawsuit regarding House Bill 7069, which has been deemed as unconstitutional by union members, teachers and others. The suit, which some lawmakers fear could lead to school district funding retaliation, keeps growing in regard to the number of districts pooling funds to hire attorneys to handle the case. Broward, Bay, Lee, St. Lucie and Volusia counties are leading the way with Dade, Orange and Hillsborough “on the cusp.”


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