Developers, new home buyers would pay more under Marysville proposal

By KRISTIN KINNAMON

Herald Writer

MARYSVILLE – School officials are hoping the city will impose the region’s highest mitigation fees on new development – $7,694 per home – after a public hearing Monday.

Developers, however, are not crazy about the idea, saying it will only add to the costs of homes in the area. They also say the fee is unfair because sales of existing homes don’t have to pay the fee, even though they bring in new students, too.

The district has been pursuing the new fees ever since the county eliminated a $2,000 per unit cap on school mitigation in December.

The district’s need for a new high school, middle school and elementary school in the next six years is what drove it to be the first in the county to submit a new capital plan to raise mitigation fees, school facilities director Larry Price said.

The plan outlines more than $96 million in facilities needs through 2006. Mitigation fees only pay for a portion of that; bonds repaid by both old and new property owners and state matching funds cover the majority of costs.

The school mitigation ordinance calls for the city fee to mirror the county fee, because the Marysville School District crosses jurisdictional lines. At its next meeting the city council will consider dropping that language and adopting the school district’s higher fee recommendation.

The county’s recently revised ordinance gives developers a 50 percent discount off the calculation for the cost of new school space. Marysville School Superintendent Richard Eisenhauer argued against the discount and will ask the city to collect the full amount, Price said.

Ty Waude, vice president of the Master Builders Association, said the discount is appropriate because the formula for calculating impact fees doesn’t take into account the higher value – and tax contribution – of new homes, or the new students generated when existing homes sell with no fees collected.

"Our industry just wants what is fair," said Waude, a manager with Belmark Industries, a Marysville-based developer.

He said legal action is a certainty if the city adopts the school’s recommendation.

No matter what the council decides, no one is likely to impose a new fee immediately. Initiative 695’s requirement that all new taxes and fees be voted on, while tossed out by a lower court, still must be heard by the state Supreme Court before jurisdictions are willing to risk an increase, Marysville city planner Gloria Hirashima said.

Marysville’s enrollment of just more than 11,000 students is expected to grow to at least 12,000 in five years. The district has 1,209 more middle-schoolers than it can hold this year. Those "unhoused" students account for the 95 portables used by the district.

Price said construction sequencing will be one item considered by a citizens’ committee that will meet next month. The committee will make a recommendation to the school board on the timing and packaging of school construction bonds, he said.

Of the 13 school districts in the county that collect mitigation to help build new schools or pay for portables for new students, all but two still charge the former county maximum of $2,000. Many areas in the county are in the process of raising that amount. Some cities already collect more for schools within their jurisdictions.

Arlington, Monroe and Mukilteo school districts have submitted new capital plans to the county to increase their fees. A county council hearing on the plans and fees of all four districts is scheduled for Sept. 6.

Snohomish collects the highest school fee in the county at $4,687 per home. Issaquah has the highest fee in the region at $6,131.

You can call Herald Writer Kristin Kinnamon at 425-339-3429or send e-mail to

kinnamon@heraldnet.com.

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