Frederick County Councilman Proposes Changes To School Mitigation Fee Ordinance

It would update the fees to reflect the true cost of school construction.                                                                       


Frederick, Md (KM) Legislation is being drafted to adjust the school mitigation fees. Frederick County Councilman Steve McKay is working on this measure which he hopes to introduce sometime very soon.

Under county law, residential developers whose projects fail the Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance schools test must halt construction until additional capacity is built; or they could construct the additional classrooms themselves. The goal is make sure there’s plenty of classrooms for public school students who will be generated by residential construction.

In 2012, the last Board of County Commissioners adopted an ordinance to allow those developers to pay a mitigation fee which would be used for school construction, and continue with their projects.

“I’ve always been very clear: I know it’s a horrible policy decision to allow developers to continue building into crowded school districts by paying this fee,” McKay says.

He says this fee was supposed to be adjusted periodically to cover the true costs of school construction, but that hasn’t happened. “No sooner was the bill introduced and enacted back in 2012 but they took away that mechanism for updating them. So the fees have generally been flat over that time period as the cost of schools rose significantly,” he said.

The revenue coming from these fees doesn’t cover the cost of school construction costs, McKay says, and  taxpayers make up the difference. “You may not really see it very clearly on your property tax bill, but believe me, it’s there,” he says.

“We need to get those fees caught up to higher cost of building schools in our most overcrowded school districts,”: McKay continues.

He was asked won’t increases in these fees make new homes more expensive. “Well, it does. There’s no getting around that,” McKay responded. “In a perfect world, you’d love the developers to take that out of hide.  I know it’s not going to happen.”

Councilman McKay hopes to introduce this bill in January.


By Kevin McManus