Two new elementary schools and one middle school are needed in the coming years to address Fort Mill’s growth. And high schools facilities need more seat space.
The announcement came last week amid a deal for the school district to get their hands on over $50 million in impact fees already collected. On Monday night, the York County Council passed a resolution that should allow the district to use the fees for “construction of future school facilities,” according to Joe Burke, Chief Communications Officer.
“Once the amended plan is approved, the funds currently held by the county can be released to fund in part the construction of the new facilities,” Burke said in an email to The Fort Mill Sun. “While our Facilities Needs Plan has not been finalized, we are currently estimating the need for two elementary schools, one middle school and expansion of seat space at the high school level.”
At Tuesday’s school board meeting, the county’s assistant county manager, Kevin Madden, outlined the county council resolution. The resolution would – under the South Carolina Impact Fee Act – apply for an amendment to the current impact fee study to include the construction of future school facilities.
The action comes just days after The Fort Mill Sun’s outlined a lingering lawsuit that has tied up tens of millions of impact fee money already collected. York County’s suit against the school district claims the county cannot hand over the collected monies since the district wanted to use it to repay bond debt instead of payment for new school construction costs.
“The district has been working with the county to reach a resolution on this issue,” Burke said this week. “The resolution passed by the county and shared … at our board meeting is the first step in that process.”
Burke said he did not know how the agreement would impact the year-old lawsuit, which appeared headed for mediation.
One possible option, according to the lawsuit, was to refund the fees “to the owner of record of property on which a development impact fee has been paid.”
For many years, the county has collected $18,158 for single family homes and $12,020 per unit for multifamily dwellings, something school officials said would make newcomers shoulder more of the burden for the growth they are bringing with them. Just two decades ago, there were just under 6,000 students in Fort Mill schools. There are now more than 18,000, requiring the construction of several new schools.
The school district has repeatedly asked the county to turn over the impact fee monies. The lawsuit said the school district paid for completed schools with bonds and wanted to use the impact fees to pay the debt on bonds.