By Jack Mayne The Burien City Council unanimously held up the establishment of a school impact fee program requested by the Highline School District, suggesting the district collaborate with all of the six entities that are part of the district so a unified fee plan could be considered. The Council also discussed the development of the city’s 2017-2018 biennial budget, the capital improvement program, arts in public places financing, and the discussion of human services and arts and grants recommendations. It also discussed and refined the proposals the city’s lobbying of the Washington Legislature and the U.S. Congress. At the start of the session were people again suggesting voters and the Council reject the bond issues on the Nov. 8 ballot by Sound Transit and the Highline School District. Councilmember Nancy Tosta moved and the Council unanimously agreed to have Mayor Lucy Krakowiak sign a contract with newly selected interim City Manager Tony Piasecki, slated to take up the job on Monday, Oct. 24. School impact fee The Highline district encompasses all of Burien, SeaTac, Des Moines, Normandy Park and a part of Kent and parts of unincorporated King County. Any school impact fees must, by state law, be based on a capital facilities plan approved by the school board, but also part of all cities’ comprehensive plans. All fees that could be collected by cities would go to the school district. Former Deputy Mayor Rose Clark said this is a fee “that will help build and maintain schools that need to be enlarged … so I feel very strongly that it is a fair proposition to have growth pay for growth.” Resident Greg Anderson said he wanted the council to “vote on this” because it is an “unfair way to put fees on development.” He noted that the city has reduced impact fees for the Merrill Garden project north of City Hall, and never considered the amount lost to city coffers, adding that an “enormous fee is the wrong way to fund schools.” Resident Ed Dacy said he agreed with Anderson that it will “discourage” redevelopment in the city. Community Development Director Chip Davis pointed to a letter from Highline Superintendent Susan Enfield that supports the impact fee and “provides a defensible fee and accurately reflects capacity costs related to new development.” Councilmember Austin Bell supported the fee to “keep our schools from being overcrowded.” Widen fee discussions But Councilmember Nancy Tosta said that the Highline District is complicated because there are cities and a portion of the city of Kent, plus unincorporated King County in it with Kent and the county already paying into the fund. “For me it would make sense for us to do this as a group of cities in the Highline School District and to do it simultaneous because if we pass this fee and Des Moines, SeaTac and Normandy Park don’t, what kind of an inequity does that create in terms of development potential – or disincentive?” Tosta said. Davis such a move in terms of the other cities would take time to put together. Tosta added that the Highline Forum was created for such discussions and since it has not met in some time, perhaps this was an item that could be discussed by all the cities in the complex Highline School District. Mayor Krakowiak noted, “the timing of this is not the most effective” and also suggested a tiered fee might be better and suggested “we work with other cities in Highline, we are the first ones looking” at the impact fees. Deputy Mayor Bob Edgar said he would like to look at tiered fees rather than the flat fees contemplated in the proposed ordinance. But Councilmember Steve Armstrong disagreed that the fee was needed, noting “not every new development is going to have children that will impact the schools … and I don’t think we should consider it at this time.” Whether a development has or does not add school children, it impacts the schools, said Councilmember Lauren Berkowitz, as usual by telephone. Councilmember Debi Wagner said she has opposed every fee or charge proposed. “I haven’t seen a proposed fee I’ve liked yet,” Wagner said. “I oppose all of them.” New airport site needed? Councilmembers wanted to open discussions concerning airport noise, ways to control it and even whether a brand new airport someplace else might be a worthy matter to take up with the state’s Congressional delegation. This came with the Council discussion of its agenda for supporting legislation by regional, state and federal legislative bodies and agencies. It will finalize the proposed legislative agenda, after changes, at a later meeting. Jennifer Ziegler, a lobbyist who contracts legislative lobbying services to Burien, mentioned four priorities the council has discussed previously. They include, said Ziegler, asking the Washington Legislature to support adequate mental health resources and monitoring efforts about alternatives to mandatory arrest. Another issue for the Legislature would be supporting more study of the state’s current and future needs for statewide aviation capacity especially the growth of Sea-Tac airport. Councilmember Tosta wanted to add including study for the need of a future new airport location elsewhere in Western Washington. Councilmember Steve Armstrong wanted to have it say airports. In addition, Ziegler noted the Council wanted to work with the state’s Congressional delegation, the Port of Seattle and with the Federal Aviation Agency on airport noise levels and takeoff and landing flight paths.]]>

Senior Reporter Jack Mayne passed away in December, 2021. In his honor we have created the Jack Mayne Journalism Scholarship.

One reply on “School District’s requested impact fee held by Council to get input from other cities”

  1. I would be interested in a map that would indicate where schools can no longer be built in the Highline District due to airport flight paths. Just for the record, I do understand and totally agree that residents who do not have children, still need to support their public schools. I am not opposed to a fee for new construction that would aid in school improvements. I am quite in favor of improving the quality of our schools in everyway.
    However, families who now need to send their children outside their neighborhoods because schools cannot be built close-by, should receive some consideration, as should developers who cannot use ‘close to schools’ in their advertisements when building under flight paths. Being near good schools is a big consideration for many young families when purchasing a new house. The fees should reflect how the Port is impacting these areas.
    For the purpose of new construction of any kind, the Port should be asked for future long term plans, as well. How can Burien, or any of the cities in the Highline District properly plan or engender development without a clue (let alone specifics) of what the port is proposing to do in the next 25-50 years? That may sound like a long time to some, but it truly is not when you think of the economics involved. We cannot afford to keep letting the Port make our decisions for us on an ad hoc basis.

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