Developer fees

Members of the Mojave Unified School District Governing Board on Thursday approved reducing by half the fees it charges developers to cover costs of providing schools for students brought to the District by new housing.

CALIFORNIA CITY — As part of a coordinated effort with city officials to hopefully entice home builders to the area, the Mojave Unified School District Governing Board agreed Thursday to cut in half the fees it charges developers.

These impact fees are intended to offset the costs to the schools created by the increased population brought with the development.

The Board voted 4-0 to reduce the impact fees from $3.79 to $1.90 per square foot of residential construction, while keeping the $0.61 per square foot commercial rate in place.

Trustee Andrew Parker was absent.

District officials will monitor the effects of the fee reduction, reporting them as part of the quarterly financial reports, Assistant Superintendent for Business Keith Gainey said.

The fees may be increased or lowered as needed to meet the needs of the District, he said.

Trustee Larry Adams cautioned that the District’s four campuses in California City are at or nearing capacity and the District may need to increase the fees if the desired new construction brings a surge in students.

If the lowered fees work and attracts a 100-home development, “we’re out of space. We have no place to put anybody,” he said.

Gainey noted the District has an empty campus in Mojave, the former Joshua Middle School, that could be used to handle overcrowding in Mojave schools, but that may not be a solution for handling growth in Cal City.

Cal City businessman D.J. Twohig, who has pushed for the fee reductions at the city and school District, said the reduction is a matter of making Cal City attractive to builders.

“It’s very important that we compete and right now we’re not competing,” he said, because developer fees are higher than other cities.

“Facility needs are urgent for the students in the future,” he said. “We understand that.”

He suggested the District monitor the needs and adjust the fee as necessary if construction and the associated student population materializes.

The Board and Cal City officials have been in discussions regarding reducing the fees for several months.

The California City City Council agreed last month to waive its water connection and water and sewer impact fees for the next three years.

Waiving the $1,649 water impact fee, $1,898 sewer impact fee and the $2,150 residential water connection fee reduces the developer fees through the city by a little more than half. The District decided it would be equitable to make a similar sized reduction, Gainey said.

“The District has made a significant contribution in reducing the fees by 50%,” he said, but “it is perfectly acceptable” if the Board wanted to lower it to $1.50 per square foot to meet the same reductions made by the city.

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