WUSD raises impact fees on new development

While the economy on the west side of Colusa County continues to hum, the Williams Unified School District Board of Trustees will collect what they are entitled to from the construction of all new commercial and housing developments.

School districts are authorized by the state to levy a fee against construction in order to build or reconstruct school facilities necessitated by development, officials said.

The school board, at their regular meeting on Aug. 16, increased the district’s Level 1 impact fees to match the maximum the State Allocation Board authorized last January, allowing the school district to collect $3.79 per square foot of residential development and 61 cents per square foot for any new covered and enclosed commercial/industrial development, WUSD officials said.

The new rates represent an 8.78 percent increase over the maximum amounts the SAB authorized schools to collect in 2016, and will help the district cover the public cost associated with private development.

“The developer fees are the fees whenever a development comes in, so we get our fair share,” said Trustee George Simmons. “In the past, we have not been getting our fair share.”

School districts throughout the state have taken similar action to increase development fees as the population and economy drives new construction.

According to the Developer Fee Justification Study that WUSD competed in June, the actual cost to the district to provide new or reconstructed school facilities is an average of $16.37 per square foot.

Williams has had a host of new businesses come in to town, including Arco and Dollar General, and a new Love’s truck stop is already under development. Grocery Outlet is in the works, as is the Canna-Hub, a large cannabis manufacturing facility.

With development comes jobs, and with jobs comes families with school-aged children, officials said.

According to Williams City Administrator Frank Kennedy, the city is in the final approval process for 42 homes plus 10 self-help homes.

“It is unknown how many homes and residential development will come with Canna-Hub,” Kennedy said. “There has been some interest in an 82-home subdivision that already has a map drawn up, but they are in the exploratory stages of that.”

According to the justification study, the district is able to use revenue collected on residential and commercial/industrial construction to purchase or lease interim school facilities, construct or reconstruct schools, architectural and engineering costs, furniture, equipment, and technology for school facilities, as well as any other purpose arising from the process of providing facilities for students generated by new development within the boundaries of the school district.