Ashland school board to vote on construction tax

Building in Ashland will get more expensive if the School Board votes Monday to levy a construction tax.

The tax would be levied 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.

"People that are moving into a district do cause a district to add facilities and in that sense it's fair that they pay for the costs," School Board Chairman Keith Massie said.

The 7 p.m. board meeting will be held in the City Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main St.

If the board votes to approve the tax, it will need to decide when to levy it, Massie said.

"My sense is that it probably won't go into effect until sometime this summer," he said.

At a November board meeting, a few community members asked the board to wait to enact the tax until the economy has recovered from the recession.

"They felt like, while the tax may be fair and justified, in this economy it might not be the best thing to do to construction, and I think there's some merit to that," Massie said.

In August, the board voted 3-0 to direct school officials to move forward with the tax proposal.

Jill Turner, the district's business manager, estimates the tax could bring in between $100,000 and $350,000 per year.

"Last year (2008), in the city limits, if this tax were in place, we would have collected $93,000," she told the board in November.

School administrators are proposing that the district enact the highest tax possible under the 2007 law.

The proposed tax would be $1 per square foot on residential construction and 50 cents per square foot on non-residential construction, according to board documents.

The fees for nonresidential construction would not exceed $25,000 per building permit or $25,000 per structure, whichever is less, according to the documents.

The district could only use the tax revenues to pay for new construction or renovation projects, Turner said. It is a one-time tax, levied when the building permit is issued.

Some building permits, such as those taken out to construct low-income housing, government facilities or houses of worship would be exempt from the tax, she added.

The city and county building departments would collect the tax for the district, and keep a 4 percent administrative fee.

Contact staff writer Hannah Guzik at 482-3456 ext. 226 or

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