WATSONVILLE—The Pajaro Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees on Wednesday approved increases to the fees charged for new residential and commercial development within the district.
The fees increased from $4.08 to $4.79 per square foot for residential construction and from 66 cents to 78 cents per square foot for commercial development. The fees were last increased in 2020.
These charges, known as level 1 fees, are a way for school districts to fund new construction projects and help get aging buildings ready for students. They are based on enrollment and justified on the impact the new projects will have on the district.
A new residential project, for example, would increase the number of students, and therefore the need for additional facilities.
“Developer fees are really one of the ways we are able to either build new buildings or to improve buildings that have met their life span,” said PVUSD Chief Business Officer Clint Rucker.
State law allows school districts to charge level 2 fees if it can show that the current ones are not sufficient to cover current costs.
With last year’s enrollment topping out at 18,675 students, school officials are watching with trepidation as near-capacity schools prepare for increasing numbers in their aging facilities.
According to Rucker, an average of 42 new housing units have been added to the district boundaries over the past three years, a number that is expected to continue to rise in the coming years.
A recent School Facilities Needs Analysis—required under state law—has justified the need for a fee of $5.81 per square foot on new residential development, which can be applied by the district.
Revenue from level 2 fees is estimated at just over $2 million, roughly one-half the cost of needed school projects. The other half is expected to be provided by the State school facility program.
In justifying levying the fees, districts must identify the number of students expected to come from residential development and the cost these students will be to the district. They must also show that the fees charged will not exceed the estimated costs.