Mayor halts vote on school impact fees
MONROE - The City Council agreed last week to keep the current 25 percent discount on school mitigation fees for the time being and tabled the discussion on increasing the discount for developers until an unknown date next year.
The decision by Mayor Robert Zimmerman to pull the item from the agenda put the brakes on a review process that appeared ready for a council vote.
The city has been pushing a proposal to increase the discount for developers to 50 percent. The proposal passed through the planning commission in October. At the commission’s Oct. 15 public hearing, community members and school board members spoke in opposition to the proposal. Builders were among the few to speak in favor of increasing the discount.
The Monroe School District came out against the proposal, saying in a letter to city officials that “efforts to encourage prosperity in our community should look at changing school mitigation fees as the very last option.”
The district told city officials the current amount of mitigation fees collected was barely enough to keep up with student growth.
Over the following months, council meetings were noticeably attended by concerned residents and school board members who opposed the increased discount.
The city had been, until now, appeared ready to approve the increase from 25 to 50 percent. These fees are charged to developers that build new homes within the city. The fee revenue goes to the Monroe School District to help offset the cost of creating new and temporary learning space for the additional students.
Economic development manager Jeff Sax had been pushing for the increase saying it would boost the economy and promote residential development.
“The City Council has to look at the city as a whole,” Sax said at an October planning commission meeting. “It’s the council’s role to look comprehensively at the entire package and to not get bogged down on a single issue; we’re getting bogged down.”
Councilman Jim Kamp disagreed the city was on a “clear track” to increase the discount.
“We were carefully reviewing the information we received and I spent considerable time reviewing the testimony from school board members at the planning commission hearings,” Kamp told the Tribune. “Given the other issues the city is working with right now, the mayor’s decision to table the discussion for the time being was the correct one.”
Kamp was the only council member to respond to the Tribune’s request for comment.
The council did vote on removing the fees from the comprehensive plan and putting them in the municipal code, which allows the council to change the fees whenever as opposed to once a year under the comprehensive plan. That motion passed 5-2.
A separate motion to increase the discount was pulled by the mayor.
It is unknown at this time when the council will address the issue again.
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