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School district will consider building tax

Ashland School District is considering enacting a tax on all new-construction building permits taken out within the district.

School administrators want to take advantage of a 2007 Oregon law that allows districts to tax new construction in order to help pay for building and maintenance of school facilities, Jill Turner, the district's business manager announced at Monday's School Board meeting.

Board members voted 3-0 on Monday to direct school officials to move forward with the tax proposal.

A public hearing on the matter is scheduled for the board's Sept. 14 meeting and the board is expected to vote on whether to implement the tax at its Oct. 12 meeting.

The meetings will be held at 7 p.m. in the City Council chambers, 1175 E. Main St.

Although the exact tax rates have not been determined, the tax would likely be set at around $1 per square foot on residential construction and 50 cents per square foot on non-residential construction, according to board documents.

The fees would likely not exceed $25,000 per building permit or $25,000 per structure, according to the documents.

The district could only use the tax revenues to pay for new construction or renovation projects, Turner said.

Central Point's school district is the only one so far in Jackson County to implement the tax, Turner said. She expects most districts will enact the tax in the coming months or years, and she hopes to work with neighboring districts to create a uniform rate, she said.

"I think a number of the districts are anxious to do this in the Valley," she said.

Some building permits, such as those taken out to construct low-income homes, would be exempt from the tax, Turner said.

Implementing the tax would require intergovernmental agreements between the district, the city and the county. The city and county would collect the fees and hand them over to the district, taking a small cut for processing, Turner said.

Board members did not discuss the tax at length on Monday, but did ask about what the potential negative impacts of the tax could be.

"The only negative I could foresee is that you could pretty much assume that a contractor would pass these costs on to the consumer," Superintendent Juli Di Chiro said.

"It's a minimal amount, so would it impact the cost of the homes? I don't know," she said.

Board Chairman Keith Massie also asked how much revenue district officials believe the tax would bring in each year.

Turner said she didn't have an exact number yet, but that she believed the Central Point district received about $20,000 per quarter in 2007. Revenues have likely dropped since because of the slowdown in construction due to the recession, she said.

Contact staff writer Hannah Guzik at 482-3456 ext. 226 or hguzik@dailytidings.com.