School impact fees on hiatus

A resolution passed by the Bainbridge Island City Council at its last meeting has stopped the collection of school impact fees.

The recommendation was made by the Bainbridge Island School District, which stated based on future enrollment projections that the district did not anticipate using the money for any future projects that were connected to growth.

BISD Supt. Faith Chapel said the district’s projections do not show any major growth in enrollment in the district over the next several years. The most current five-year Capital Facilities Plan, passed by the school board, states that impact fees will not be needed for the second phase of the Master Plan, which includes the replacement of Wilkes Elementary School.

“In general we don’t have as many students as we did five or six years ago,” she said. “It was a bit of a bubble that passed.”

Currently, the district has an enrollment of just under 4,000 students.

The current ordinance was passed in 1993, with the city collecting an impact fee for new homes that are built on the island to help pay for infrastructure to offset growth. It was challenged in 2004 when a concerned citizen felt the fees were improperly collected by the school district because the ordinance was not clear enough on the authorization the city had to allow the district to collect the fees, among other allegations.

The school district has used the fees for the building of Sakai Intermediate School and an addition to Woodward Middle School.

Facilities and Capital Projects Director Tamela VanWinkle said the last time the district used monies collected from school impact fees was for the high school’s 200 building, which was completed in 2008.

City Finance & Administrative Services Director Ellen Schroer said the fee balance is in the neighborhood of $200,000.

All of that will be going back to those who paid the fee. Schroer said the city will spend two to three months determining who qualifies for a refund and notifying them by mail.

Chapel said if they see an increase in their enrollment, they will ask the city to restart the collection of the fee.


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