SANTA ANA — The Santa Ana Unified School District has narrowly approved an increase in fees for commercial, industrial and residential construction within its boundaries.
At its regular meeting last week, the Board of Education voted 3 to 2 to raise fees on commercial and industrial projects from $1.65 to $1.72 per square foot and on residential building from 27 cents to 28 cents per square foot.
Sal Mendoza, Audrey Yamagata-Noji and Robert W. Balen voted in favor of the fee increase. Trustees Rosemarie Avila and Tom Chaffee opposed it.
Under state law, Santa Ana Unified and other school districts that receive matching building funds from the state may collect fees from developers. However, the money raised must be given to the state, and districts that do not charge developers the maximum allowable rate must make up the difference, said Bob Giritz, district controller.
As it does every two years, the state recently increased the maximum rate to keep pace with inflation.
Had the district failed to pass that increased cost along to developers, it would have risked about $28,000 a year at the current rate of local development, Giritz said.
"I think there's a lot more riding on this than meets the eye," Balen said, pointing out that if the local economy recovers and development surges, the district could stand to lose more than $100,000 a year.
Chaffee said he opposed the plan because voters rejected a ballot proposition last November that would have let stand a similar increase.
Giritz said that new fees will become effective in July.