AVUHSD developer fees

A September rejection of a proposed 15-cent per square foot developer fee increase has resulted in the Antelope Valley Union High School District losing nearly $800,000 in developer fees.

LANCASTER — Antelope Valley Union High School District lost nearly $800,000 in developer fees over the past five months after a proposed 15-cent per square foot developer fee increase failed to pass at the Sept. 10 meeting.

The Board voted 2-1 at the meeting, with member Victoria Ruffin dissenting. Board Vice President John Rush was absent.

California law allows school districts to collect fees on new construction within their boundaries to partially offset the cost of new classrooms to accommodate population growth.

The District qualified for the greater Level II fee based on the current cost to build a high school campus, and by completing a school facilities needs analysis. The District hired Irvine-based consultant Cooperative Strategies to conduct the analysis, which was dated Aug. 7.

Had the Board approved the fee increase at the Sept.10 meeting, the Level II developer fee would have increased to $2.45 per square foot, up from $2.30 a square foot, on new home construction. Because the Level II fee increase failed to pass, the previous Level II fee expired. As such, the District was able to collect only a Level 1 fee,

Since Sept.11, the District lost an estimated $799,611 in developer fees.

“That represents $1.39 per square foot of residential property that permits have been pulled in our area that we were not able to charge the appropriate fee on,” Assistant Superintendent Brian Hawkins said in response to a question from Board President Jill McGrady.

The District cannot recover the lost revenue for the benefit of future students, Hawkins added.

“When we do need to build additional classrooms or an additional school using bond money, that’s $800,000 more bond money that we will have to use,” Hawkins said, “thereby causing additional property taxes for the $800,000 plus the interest for all property holders in our District area. So it’s a significant loss of revenue for today and tomorrow.”

Since September developers have pulled 197 permits for single-family homes and one permit for a 100-unit apartment complex.

Ruffin said she asked to speak with the District’s auditor but has yet to do so.

“I’m not sure what all the roadblocks were, but my opportunity never came to fruition,” Ruffin said. “That has been my hesitation to vote on issues of our budget because of the roadblocks with the transparency of giving me as a board member an opportunity to have full transparency on these issues.”

McGrady said she was not sure the audit has anything to do with the developer fees.

The Board approved the Level II fee at Wednesday’s meeting on a 3-2 vote, with Ruffin and member Amanda Parrell dissenting.

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