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More fee money needed to offset school cost overruns

June 22, 2006|by DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Jefferson County Schools officials say they need $6 million in school impact fees to help offset rising costs associated with a new high school being built adjacent to the Huntfield development.

School officials previously said they would use $2.5 million to help pay for the high school.

The school system needs a total of $6 million to help offset increasing costs of construction, Superintendent of Schools R. Steven Nichols said Wednesday.

The Jefferson County Board of Education and the Jefferson County Commission met Wednesday to discuss the issue.

The commission oversees collection of school impact fees and distribution of the money. About $7 million has been collected through the fees, Commissioner Dale Manuel said Wednesday.

Manuel said commission members are studying the school system's request.

State law controlling the distribution of school impact fee funds is complex, and commission members want to make sure they are complying with the law when money is distributed, Manuel said.

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School officials previously said that they were dealing with a cost overrun of $3.5 million for the school, which will cost about $37.9 million.

Board of Education member Cheryl Huff previously said that the cost overrun developed when the state School Building Authority required school officials to use a cost of $128 per square foot in determining the cost of the school.

Architects have told school officials that the rate needed to be higher, Huff said.

Although the School Building Authority later allowed the square-footage cost to be increased to $161, the school system had to use the $128 figure when it put the project out for bids, Huff said.

To offset the cost overrun, money was transferred from the school system's maintenance budget, and $2.5 million in school impact fees were used to help fund it, Nichols said.

Impact fees are collected from developers to help offset the cost of public services needed because of population growth. The school impact fee for a single family home is $9,877, the fee for a town house or duplex is $7,444, and the fee for a multifamily unit is $5,484.

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