Frederick County Alters Development Fees For Areas Near Overcrowded Schools

A September 24 Frederick News-Post article reported that the Frederick County Board of Commissioners has approved increasing a variety of development mitigation fees for projects that would add new residential homes to areas with schools that over-capacity or near over-capacity.  The article noted the exact amount of the fee varies based on type of housing and type of school.  The article also explained that the fee was created in response to building moratoria created by school capacity adequate public facility ordinances.

The changes will lift the fee in most cases but lower the amount paid when single-family houses and town houses are constructed close to over-capacity middle schools. The fees are based on the cost of building new classroom space and the average number of students generated by each housing type.

The article also noted that some officials and advocates do not believe the mitigation fee is effective.

However, local education advocate Janice Spiegel said the fee will fall far short of meeting school construction needs and is setting the county up to worsen its overcrowding problems. Spiegel looked at a list of current residential projects and calculated that they will furnish the county with more than $160 million in impact and school mitigation fees. However, this amount is about $110 million shy of what the county would need to build or expand schools for students moving into these new houses, she said.  …

Kelly Weaver, the county’s assistant budget officer, said Spiegel’s calculations don’t take into account the money provided by the state for school construction. But Spiegel said the county shouldn’t bank on money from the state, which can be an unpredictable funding source.