MOJAVE — The Mojave Unified School District Board of Trustees reached a consensus at its meeting Thursday to temporarily reduce the fees it charges developers in order to offset the costs to the school district of providing educational services prompted by the development.
By reducing these impact fees, supporters hope to spur housing construction in the area.
The Board has had ongoing discussions on the matter with California City officials, as the city is also considering temporarily suspending the water and sewer impact fees it charges builders to offset costs of increased loads to these systems brought about by the additional population.
The City Council reached consensus on the matter at its April 23 meeting, agreeing the suspension would apply only to residential development and would last three years.
The council’s proposal would reduce the total fees it charges for new construction by about 48%, Assistant Superintendent of Business Keith Gainey said.
The school district is likewise considering reducing its impact fees by 50%, which would amount to about $1.90 per square foot for residential construction.
“I like the sound of that,” Trustee Ted Hodgkinson said.
One point in favor of reducing rather than eliminating the fees is that the process to change the fee is relatively simple, while restarting them once they have been eliminated is a much more involved process, Gainey said.
The reduction would be temporary, with the district revisiting it quarterly to ensure no undue harm is done, rather than placing a specific time limit on it.
“You have to recognize we have different needs than builders have and we have different needs than the city has,” Trustee Larry Adams said.
He noted that the district is nearing capacity at its Cal City schools and will have to add classrooms to accommodate an influx of students. The developer impact fees are intended to cover those costs of expanding facilities to meet increased student population.
Adams said he was not opposed to the fee reduction, but wanted it closely tracked, not only to ensure the district has the money to cover its needs, but also to see if it actually attracts home building.
Potential developers requested the city and the Mojave Unified School District reduce the fees charged to make it more economically feasible to build houses for the Cal City market.
While the request was specifically in regards to building houses in Cal City, the reduced school district fees will apply evenly across the district, which also includes the unincorporated community of Mojave.
While the Board reached consensus about its desire to reduce the fees for a time, it could not take action Thursday. A formal resolution specifying the reduction will be brought back for the Board’s consideration next month.