– Contrary to requests from the city, school district trustees
voted unanimously on Thursday to reinstate downtown developer
Gilroy – Contrary to requests from the city, school district trustees voted unanimously on Thursday to reinstate downtown developer fees. The decision will boost the Gilroy Unified School District facilities budget during the next 18 months by roughly $228,000.
“I can’t sit here and say how would we give up additional revenue,” said Trustee Francisco Dominguez during discussion of the resolution.
The school district currently has a $14 million facilities deficit, the result of spiraling construction costs and a state-mandated limits on impact fees school districts can collect from developer.
The vote ends two years of builders having the fees waived on construction projects in the downtown, a decision that cost the district about $245,000, said Steve Brinkman, assistant superintendent of business services.
This waiver, which freed developers from paying the usual cost of 42 cents per square foot for commercial developments and $2.63 per square foot for residential development, was aimed at “influencing redevelopment in the downtown corridor,” he said.
The resolution on the table would have extended the waiver until the end of the 2008 calendar year. Developers would have received a 100-percent discount on the fees for the remainder of 2007 and a 50 percent discount for all of 2008.
The money gained by denying the resolution was too much for the district’s Board of Trustees to pass up,they said.
“The extension was a good gesture in terms of partnership,” Dominguez said. “But now it’s time to end. The school district needs to move in a different direction.”
Trustees first raised the chance of rescinding the waiver at a Feb. 12 meeting with the city and builders. Other trustees expressed hesitancy in making a decision.
“I truly believe that what’s good for the city is good for the district and what’s good for the district is good for the city,” said Trustee Pat Midtgaard. “I’m very reluctant to not grant this extension.”
Reluctance notwithstanding, Midtgaard and the other six trustees voted to deny the extension.
The city was not perturbed by the district’s decision.
“I understand,” said Gilroy Mayor Al Pinheiro. “They’ve got to keep their house in order; they’ve got to pay the bills.
Part of the rationale for the decision is the reinstated fees would not discourage developers, trustees said.
“At that (Feb. 12) meeting, we had a developer come out and say it really doesn’t make a difference,” said Aguirre.
Developers were in agreement with Aguirre’s assertion about the fees.
“At the current costs” for construction, said developer James Suner of The James Group, “it’s not going to make or break any projects downtown.”