Tit for tat: Council to pay for school road but sends district bill for impact fees

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Although it has agreed reluctantly to fund widening and repairing the road leading into the new high school, Eureka Springs City Council made a step toward recouping its financial outlay on Monday night.

Alderman Butch Berry outlined his proposal. "What it amounts to is that the waiver of fees for the sewer capacity fee for the new school was never granted. When this came up in November, 2010, we did not make a decision at that time to agree. [Then] Superintendent Wayne Carr asked about waiving various fees and was told we wouldn't be able to waive them."

Berry said the school argued those fees should be waived since they were moving from the old facility to the new one and therefore wouldn't be adding any strain on the sewage system, only moving it from one location to another.

Berry pointed out the school district had paid impact fees when constructing the elementary school and should do so in this case.

Berry said no fees were ever waived for the school district. "The City Council in November 2010 took no action," he said. "They deferred it to the new council, and we never took action. It's one of those things that has slipped through the cracks, not the fault of anybody in particular, but I would like to make a motion to have the city building inspector go ahead and determine what the sewer capacity fee would be, and submit it to the school for payment."

Alderman Ken Pownall asked what if the school by action ceased to have a water/sewer account at the old location, and if that would mean the next owner of the old high school would be responsible for the normal fees on the site.

City Attorney Tim Weaver responded such impact fees were not normally imposed on prior construction. The old high school was built in 1950.

Berry said the original rough estimate for the sewer impact fees for the new high school were around $20,000. The cost of widening Lake Lucerne Road has been estimated about roughly $30,000.

Alderman Karen Lindblad was strongly in support of the idea. "A good part of the reason for widening the road is so they can have sports tournaments out there. And even though the school district as a whole voted for the new school to be where it is, I don't see Holiday Island or anybody else offering to help pay for widening this road. The citizen of this city are being hit twice by the school district to pay for this. I don't think it's fair."

"I don't have anything against the school district," Berry added. "It's just a matter of looking at past precedents."

The council voted 5-1 in favor of the motion, with Pownall voting against.

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