South Lane Schools Authorize New Construction Tax
Byline: Karen McCowan The Register-Guard
COTTAGE GROVE - The South Lane School District has joined west Eugene's Bethel district in authorizing a tax on private construction projects to help fund school construction, improvements, furnishings and technology infrastructure.
South Lane's school board voted 5-1 Monday night to take advantage of a new state law allowing school districts to levy up to $1 per square foot on new homes or additions and 50 cents per square foot (up to $25,000) on new commercial or industrial development. Under the action, the district would begin collecting construction taxes on Jan. 1.
The Legislature authorized the tax last spring after the Oregon Home Builders Association endorsed the bill. Concerns raised by Cottage Grove area home builders, however, led the school district to scale back plans to take full advantage of the new funding source. The tax approved by the board will be phased in over two years for residential construction.
The school district still plans to immediately begin taxing new commercial and industrial projects to the full extent allowed by the law. One motivation for South Lane quickly enacting the tax is a pending application by Wal-Mart to add 69,000 square feet to its Cottage Grove store and to build an additional 30,000 square feet of retail space at the front of its property along Row River Road. Those projects alone could net the district $40,000. (The Cottage Grove Planning Commission's public hearing to review Wal-Mart's proposed design for those projects, originally scheduled for tonight, was postponed until January.)
Superintendent Krista Parent said the idea to impose the tax on housing construction gradually came from local home builders.
"When we first discussed this at our Dec. 3 meeting, we had quite a few local builders question the timing," she said. "They've been school district-friendly partners for a long time - several of them were behind passing the (2000 construction) bond for the high school. …