Local Educators Propose Fee On Developers To Finance Schools - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Local Educators Propose Fee On Developers To Finance Schools

MEDINA, Ohio (AP) - An educator in fast-growing Medina County has proposed that developers pay a fee of $1,000 to $5,000 per new home to ease the financial burden on schools caused by growth in the area.

Craig Bailey, superintendent of the Buckeye School District, supports countywide fees to reduce the need for property tax increases for schools.

Developers would make a one-time payment for each home they build.

The fees would be split between schools and local governments in Medina County, located along the Interstate 71 corridor southwest of Cleveland.

"We need to look at impact fees as a possible way of offsetting the cost of all this growth," Bailey said. "It would bring revenue into the district, and it may slow growth down, which, in this county, wouldn't be a bad thing."

More than 1,000 houses are built annually in Medina County, the fastest-growing county in northeast Ohio.

Bailey's proposal is intended as an alternative to higher property taxes and school tax referendums.

Some officials said cities can charge impact fees, but Ohio law does not permit schools or counties to do so.

"In my opinion, there is no authority for school districts to impose impact fees," said Stuart Meck, co-author of Ohio Planning and Zoning Law and a senior researcher with the American Planning Association in Chicago.

Warren Russell, chief lobbyist for the Columbus-based Ohio School Boards Association, said attempts to pass laws allowing schools to use impact fees have failed. Contractors oppose such fees, he said.

Jim Owen, executive director of the Medina County Home Builders Association, said the fees could discourage some home buyers because they would be added to the price of houses.

Vince Squillace, executive vice president of the Ohio Home Builders Association, said the benefits of such fees are limited and often are exaggerated by their supporters.

He said developers already pay a fee when they spend money for sewer and water tap-ins, which cost $1,900 per house in Medina County. He also said vacant property that is used for homes generates more tax revenue after it is developed, although some superintendents say new homes often don't generate enough in taxes to cover the cost of education.

Christopher Mohr, treasurer of the Dublin school district near Columbus and president-elect of the Ohio Association of School Business Officials, said large houses sometimes don't yield adequate taxes to pay for educating a child, which is $8,600 per pupil per year in his community.

The owner of a $440,000 home pays $10,000 a year in property taxes. If two school-age children live in that house, the taxes are far short of the $17,200 cost of educating those children, Mohr said.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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