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School board puzzled by town’s fee decision
Monday, November 22, 2010

Status of the town and county’s economic development plan was thrown into question during the Tuesday meeting of the Archuleta County School District 50 Joint board, as was the future of the district’s willingness to participate in a study of impact fee normalization.

During the board’s approval of the agenda, board secretary/treasurer Linda Lattin asked to include a discussion on the results of the Pagosa Springs Town Council’s decision to wave impact fees over the next 18 months. Lattin stated that she had checked with the state regarding the town’s decision to not collect impact fees, some of which are collected for the schools.

“I believe it’s a state statute,” Lattin said, but added that she had not heard back from the state regarding the matter.

Needless to say, members of the board were displeased, not only by the town’s decision to no longer collect impact fees for the district, but also by the town’s reluctance to inform the district of its decision.

In fact, it was noted by SUN staff that Pagosa Springs Town Manager David Mitchem had assured Town Council that, with council’s acceptance of impact fee waivers, the town would inform the school district of the town’s decision and discuss what options the district might consider in collecting its impact fees (by statute, the school district is prohibited from collecting its own impact fees).

“We haven’t been told a thing,” said board member Joanne Irons.

Representatives of the town were noticeably absent at the board meeting.

Lattin also reminded the board of its recent decision to participate in the Community Economic Roundtable (CER) study of impact fees. “There’s been no discussion about what to do about the economic roundtable,” said Lattin.

The CER met June of last year to develop an intergovernmental agency (IGA) between the various local organizations, such that all taxing entities within Archuleta County would work from a standardized formula for a “rational nexus” (i.e. the connection between the impact created and the resulting fee collected). The school district was one of the last taxing entities to agree to participate in the IGA, allocating a little over $1,800 for its part in the study.

Irons asked the board, “If they’ve decided to no longer collect impact fees, why are we paying for a study?”

“We need to do something,” Lattin responded, “and not pay the money.”

Although not a matter listed on the board’s agenda, district business manager Janell Wood responded to a question regarding a county proposal to lower mill levies in order to offset the increase in property taxes due to recent Notices of Valuation. Wood was asked if the district would lower its mill levy if the Notices of Valuation resulted in increased tax collection.

“The general fund mill levy is set by statute,” Wood said, “but it is set only to pay back the bond. If the valuations go up significantly, the mill levy could come down.”

In another order of business, the board approved the elimination of two bus routes, saving the district over $27,000. Route 8 — County Road 700 (Cat Creek) would lose service, except for the first mile. Students on that route would be picked up at the mail boxes on Cat Creek.

Route 17 — U.S. 160 to the Colo. 151 pullout would lose service, with students on that route also being picked up at the Cat Creek mailboxes.

District Transportation Director Dolly Martin informed the board that the routes were being cut due to limited use (less than five students on each route) and in the interest of saving the district money. Martin said parents of the students using those routes would be contacted, via a number of means.

Board member Sandy Caves asked, “If we approve this and we find there is a demand, we can change this in the fall?”

The board assented that it would reexamine the route changes should demand increase, and passed the measure unanimously.

The school board meets again Tuesday, Aug. 18 at 5 p.m. in the district’s Maintenance and Transportation building.

jim@pagosasun.com