Saturday, July 13, 2024
Hawai'i Free Press

Current Articles | Archives

Sunday, February 11, 2024
Hoarding School Impact Fees
By Tom Yamachika @ 5:00 AM :: 1677 Views :: Education K-12, Development, Taxes

Hoarding School Impact Fees

by Tom Yamachika, President, Tax Foundation Hawaii

Here in Hawaii, our Department of Education is unique in several respects.  In most states, K-12 education is handled by localities such as towns and counties and is largely funded by property tax.  Our DOE, however, is descended from royalty – it was established by King Kamehameha III in 1840 – and it now runs education statewide.  No property tax is used to fund education; our state constitution now says that the property tax is the exclusive kuleana of the counties.

The DOE also is unique in that it is the only state agency with the power to impose a tax.  (Even the Department of Taxation only administers and enforces taxes imposed by laws enacted by the legislature.)  The tax that DOE imposes is called the school impact fee.  We have written about it before.  Basically, developers of housing projects are required to provide land for school facilities depending on the number of kids that the projects are expected to house and the amount of capacity (or lack thereof) in the schools that now serve those projects.  Builders in the same districts that are too small to be expected to provide land are required to cough up some money instead.  In addition, all home builders or buyers must pay a construction cost fee.

Currently, there are four school impact fee districts:  two on Oahu and two on Maui.  The most recent one is known as the Kalihi to Ala Moana school impact district, and it basically follows the path of the Skyline rail project once it hits urban Honolulu.

Five years ago, the State Auditor, in Report No. 19-13, found that “the school impact fee law has been of questionable ‘impact.’” It allows DOE to collect money, but not that much.  As of the end of 2018, DOE had collected $5.3 million – at a time when it cost $80 million, approximately, to build one elementary school.  Also, the Auditor found that while the DOE was able to spend a few million dollars out of “fair share contributions,” which is what developers and DOE negotiated before the school impact fee law was enacted in 2007, zero – not one thin dime – was spent out of the impact fees collected.  Only one (1) person at DOE was assigned to implement the impact fee – apparently an indication of how important it is within DOE.

We examined the school impact fee fund balances between fiscal 2021 and 2024 and found that the cumulative balances swelled from $13 million to $18 million.

Maybe these monies are not enough to build a whole school, but there is surely enough here to take care of some new or replacement facilities.  But it looks like none of it is being used.  Each of the fund balances is steadily increasing.  If some of it was being spent, we would expect some dips in the balances over time – there don’t seem to be any.

Someone needs to get on the ball here.  We don’t think developers and other taxpayers gave money to DOE just for that money to sit around doing nothing.  Legislators don’t appropriate money to DOE just to see the appropriations lapse in a few years.  Don’t hoard that money, use it for the public good!  King Kamehameha III would not be happy with the current state of affairs.


TEXT "follow HawaiiFreePress" to 40404

Register to Vote


Aloha Pregnancy Care Center


Antonio Gramsci Reading List

A Place for Women in Waipio

Ballotpedia Hawaii

Broken Trust

Build More Hawaiian Homes Working Group

Christian Homeschoolers of Hawaii

Cliff Slater's Second Opinion

DVids Hawaii


Fix Oahu!

Frontline: The Fixers

Genetic Literacy Project

Grassroot Institute

Hawaii Aquarium Fish Report

Hawaii Aviation Preservation Society

Hawaii Catholic TV

Hawaii Christian Coalition

Hawaii Cigar Association

Hawaii ConCon Info

Hawaii Debt Clock

Hawaii Defense Foundation

Hawaii Family Forum

Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United

Hawaii Farmer's Daughter

Hawaii Federation of Republican Women

Hawaii History Blog

Hawaii Jihadi Trial

Hawaii Legal News

Hawaii Legal Short-Term Rental Alliance

Hawaii Matters

Hawaii Military History

Hawaii's Partnership for Appropriate & Compassionate Care

Hawaii Public Charter School Network

Hawaii Rifle Association

Hawaii Shippers Council

Hawaii Together


Hiram Fong Papers

Homeschool Legal Defense Hawaii

Honolulu Navy League

Honolulu Traffic

House Minority Blog

Imua TMT

Inouye-Kwock, NYT 1992

Inside the Nature Conservancy

Inverse Condemnation

July 4 in Hawaii

Land and Power in Hawaii

Lessons in Firearm Education

Lingle Years

Managed Care Matters -- Hawaii

Missile Defense Advocacy

MIS Veterans Hawaii

NAMI Hawaii

National Parents Org Hawaii

NFIB Hawaii News

NRA-ILA Hawaii


OHA Lies

Opt Out Today

Patients Rights Council Hawaii

Practical Policy Institute of Hawaii

Pritchett Cartoons

Pro-GMO Hawaii

Rental by Owner Awareness Assn

Research Institute for Hawaii USA

Rick Hamada Show

RJ Rummel

School Choice in Hawaii

Talking Tax

Tax Foundation of Hawaii

The Real Hanabusa

Time Out Honolulu

Trustee Akina KWO Columns

West Maui Taxpayers Association

What Natalie Thinks

Whole Life Hawaii