Friday, September 28, 2007



Several years ago I interviewed a developer in West Linn Oregon where much new house construction has been underway for a while. I asked him if he is wiling to help pay for schools while he builds on every last piece of land left in this suburb, that boasts of the “best schools in Oregon.”
In fact, developers when they go to sell their houses, boast about the great schools in West Linn. People, in fact, move here for the schools.
Yet, this developer said he is not willing to pay for the very schools her brags about when selling houses; instead he said to me, “Over my dead twitching body will I help pay for schools in West Linn.”
I was so irate about this; I wrote a column about it but did not go very far with it. I did talk to my city councilors, who at the time were very supportive of charging developers high fees (David Dodd and Mike Kapigian were ahead of their time), but I got tired like everyone else does on this issue.
The law in Oregon as it stands does not require an system development charge on developers to pay for schools and this is just not right. Well, two moms in Oregon, featured in a story titled “Two Tough Moms” in the 9-27-07 edition of The Oregonian have been fighting back. They campaigned for 5 years to find additional sources of funding for school construction in the ever growing Clackamas area. Due to the moms’ (Pauline McGuire and Julie Volpel) tenacity, the North Clackamas district will be the first district to enact a construction tax the 2007 Legislature approved to give overcrowded districts additional dollars for new buildings. It was not easy for the two persistent moms-- they discovered just how strong and powerful the construction lobbyists are and how politicians just bow to them.
It is time for new construction to pay its fair share for schools in Oregon, the very thing that home buyers look for when searching for a place to locate. And finally, after years of people speaking out, the Oregon Senate did pass a new construction tax that would require developers to help shoulder the costs of new schools. Under the plan, builders would pay $1 per square foot for new homes, 50 cents per square foot on new commercial buildings and 25 cents per square foot on industrial buildings. Statewide, the tax could raise $60 million a year to build and repair schools. Critics say this is too little, and I would agree, but it is a start. May we not, as I did years ago, let this issue go away. Our kids are too important.
I am back on this bandwagon.
Cornelia Seigneur
aka WriterMom

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