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Santa Monica Schools Hope to Raise $1 Million With Development Fees

July 16, 1987|JOHN L. MITCHELL | Times Staff Writer

The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District will take advantage of a new state law to raise about $1 million a year by assessing fees on residential, commercial and industrial development in the district.

After a public hearing Monday evening, attended by 50 people, the Board of Education unanimously approved imposing fees up to $1.50 per square foot for new homes and additions, and 25 cents per square foot on commercial and industrial developments. The law will take effect in 60 days.

"It was a foregone conclusion that we were going to do it," school board member Peggy Lyons said.

Lyons said there was no public protest at the hearing because "people know that we are in terrible financial straits. We are so limited and there are very few avenues left and this is one them."

'Super Situation'

Michael McCarty, district business manager, said the staff will return to the board in about 30 days with a plan on how to impose the fees. "We have a super situation," he said. "The city has agreed to collect the fees because they have the administration and the staff to do it."

Many school districts throughout the state have imposed fees on developers as a way to raise funds for new schools and to refurbish buildings that have deteriorated since maintenance funds were reduced by the passage of Proposition 13.

Both the Beverly Hills and Culver City school districts are considering similar fees.

Although Santa-Monica Malibu officials estimate that the fees will bring in about $1 million, the district still must trim about $2 million from its $40-million budget for 1987-88 to make ends meet.

The district plans to use the money generated by the fees for maintenance.

Remodeling Needed

"Our facilities need a significant amount of remodeling and reconstruction, especially now that we have increased our emphasis on bringing in students from outside the district," said school board President Mary Kay Kamath.

The district hopes to increase its revenues by another $600,000 by attracting children whose parents work in the district but live elsewhere.

Officials orginally hoped to recruit about 150 new students but they already have signed up more than 240 pupils from nearby districts, including Culver City, Inglewood, Hacienda La Puente, Las Virgenes, Los Angeles Unified, Lennox, Palos Verdes Peninsula, South Whittier and Whittier.

The new students will reverse a 10-year decline in enrollment in the district. For the first time in about a decade, the district will open its doors in September with more students than the previous year.

"This will offset the declining enrollment and we will become a growing district," said Rita Esquivel, assistant to the superintendent. She said the district will continue to register students on Wednesdays between 1 and 5 p.m. at the district headquarters, 1651 16th St.

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