Beginning April 4, Glendale will join school districts statewide that have taken advantage of a new law allowing them to impose developer fees on commercial and residential construction.
School board members voted unanimously Tuesday evening to levy the fees at the maximum level, raising the district's annual income by an estimated $2.9 million.
Under the law, school districts that can prove financial need may levy up to $1.50 a square foot on newly built houses and habitable additions to existing homes. Up to 25 cents a square foot can be assessed upon commercial development.
The money collected can be used only for renovation and construction of school buildings.
Called Unfair to Elderly
The vote followed a brief public hearing in which one Glendale resident called the levy unfair to some elderly residents.
Yin Li, an architect who is designing a 27-room expansion for a local senior-citizen hotel, told board members the developer assessment would be passed on to the residents of the hotel, most of whom live on fixed incomes.
"The only way for the developer to get the money is to raise the rent on everybody," Li said. "Most of the seniors living there are on Social Security. I just cannot see this fee added to a senior-citizen hotel which has no relationship to the schools."
But board member June F. Sweetnam disagreed, saying "everybody has a moral responsibility to support public education."
A Glendale Unified School District report supporting imposition of the fees said the local district is facing a series of financial burdens, including an expected increase in student enrollment from 20,500 pupils to 21,900 during the next five years, "immediate" reconstruction needs of $4.8 million and more than $6.8 million in maintenance costs.
"Our base needs are at $10 million to $12 million alone," said School Supt. Robert A. Sanchis.
Even with additional income from developer fees, Sanchis said, it will take "a series of years before we can meet our immediate needs. We feel we can justify the need to impose developer fees at the maximum level."
Sanchis repeated a warning he made at a board meeting two weeks ago that the district may face financial penalties if a developer assessment is not imposed.
The law, he said, requires that a district requesting financial assistance from the state must first impose the fees at their maximum level or be forced to subtract from its request the money that could have been collected from developer fees.
Board member Charles E. Whitesell said he supported the fees, but not without "some reservations."
"But frankly, in view of the proven need, the legislation and penalties, I think we would be remiss as public officials if we don't support the fees," he said.
The board, which has scheduled a second public hearing March 3, has 60 days in which to modify or retract its decision, Sanchis said.