I believe it is the goal of Enumclaw School District (ESD) to support students and families of ESD, but after reading the minutes from the July 20 School Board meeting and listening to the Black Diamond City Council on Aug. 6, I am a furious taxpayer.
The school board had the opportunity to recommend the collection of maximum impact fees of $17,945 from developers in Black Diamond. Instead of supporting struggling families and students of ESD, the board made the recommendation to give developers a 50 percent discount on developer school fees to collect only $8,972. During the August 6 council meeting, it was stated that it’s common practice to discount developer fees by 50 percent. Does what’s commonly been done make it acceptable?
Granting developers a discount leaves you and me to foot the millions of dollars in lost impact fees. ESD shouldn’t be making recommendations to cities to reduce developer impact fees when the next five years bring a need for a rebuild of Kibler, a new Black Diamond Elementary, and adding capacity at the middle and high school level.
It is my strong opinion that passing any new tax bonds will be extremely difficult given the financial impacts of COVID. Voter support for school bond issues is higher when voters know land developers are paying their share fair of the cost of building new schools. I hear frustrated parents saying they shouldn’t have to pay taxes when they are doing the jobs of teachers right now. It’s foolish to expect voters to approve taxes when they feel the council and school board are giving away their tax dollars to developers, and voters aren’t getting anything in return.
Developers are causing all of the growth in Black Diamond and development should pay for itself. Development should notleave the taxpayers footing the bill while land developers treat themselves to million dollar pay days.
I’ve taught for over 20 years and have seen the financial impacts of COVID. It has left working families homeless. I experienced this firsthand with a former student. COVID and distance learning has families paying for unexpected childcare and/or without jobs. Working families are being taxed out and leaving the area.
The Enumclaw School Board and the City of Black Diamond must collect the maximum legally-supported land development impact fees. Please use your voice as an ESD voter to let the Enumclaw School Board and your City Council know they should be collecting the maximum impact fees from developers.
The Ten Trails Comprehensive School Mitigation Agreement (CSMA) allows for the City to collect much more than the proposed “half-off” discounted developer fee being proposed. The maximum developer school fee must be collected.
Be heard by writing and speaking to the School Board on August 17, and the Black Diamond Council August 20. Email and phone-in meeting information is located on the Enumclaw School Board and City of Black Diamond websites.