by Logan Finney, Idaho Reports
The Senate Local Government & Taxation Committee introduced a bill Wednesday that would allow impact fees for local school district facilities, possibly decreasing the need for future school bonds.
Impact fees can be imposed by local governments when a new development will impact service system capacity. Those fees can be used to fund capital improvements for things like water, roads, parks, and public safety. Lawmakers and school officials have debated adding public schools to that list for several years.
The bill is sponsored by Rep. Jaron Crane, R-Nampa, and Sen. Geoff Schroeder, R-Mountain Home.
“This has been an omission for a number of years – intentional – from the development impact fee ordinance,” Schroeder said.
Schroeder showed Idaho Reports multiple places in the state’s local land use planning code that specifically cite school districts as an important factor in local development decisions. The code “tells school districts to get their hopes up,” he said, with a section specific to mitigating subdivision development and delivering services without compromising quality or imposing substantial additional costs on current residents – but then limits any fees for that mitigation to the development impact fee code, which excludes school districts.
“This circles that square,” Schroeder told Idaho Reports.
The bill must receive a full committee hearing to move forward.
“I’m super excited for this discussion,” said Sen. Treg Bernt, R-Meridian. “This is a subject that needs to get discussed.”
Logan Finney | Associate Producer
Logan Finney is a North Idaho native with a passion for media production and boring government meetings. He grew up skiing, hunting and hiking in the mountains of Bonner County and has maintained a lifelong interest in the state’s geography, history and politics. Logan joined the Idaho Reports team in 2020 as a legislative session intern and stayed to cover the COVID-19 pandemic. He was hired as an associate producer in 2021 and they haven’t been able to get rid of him since.