ST. JOHN | Lake Central School Corp. was granted only a 20 percent reduction in building permit fees for the new high school at Thursday’s Town Council meeting, something the district's attorney asked the council to reconsider.
The district had requested a 100 percent waiver of the permit fees which are estimated between $1 million and $1.35 million. The council voted 3-2 to approve a motion by Councilman Gregory Volk to make that reduction rather than consider the district's request for the waiver.
Prior to the vote, Town Manager Steve Kil said the cost to the town during the high school’s three-year construction period would be significant and would include engineering, inspection and legal fees.
“We will have to hire an additional inspector for the life of the project,” Kil said.
Lake Central School Board members Howard Marshall and John DeVries attended the Town Council meeting along with Bill Ledyard, Lake Central schools director of facilities.
Attorney Michael Sears, representing the school district, said with the 20 percent reduction, the building permit fees would still total between $800,000 and slightly more than $1 million.
“The fees are not reasonably related to town costs,” Sears said during the public comment period at the end of the meeting.
“Take what Ken Kraus (St. John town engineer) has done times five. Add another inspector. Add two or three more inspectors. I can guarantee you we are nowhere near $800,000 to $1 million,” he said.
Sears said district officials had hoped to sit down and negotiate with the Town Council prior to a vote.
“Obviously this didn’t happen. We’re disappointed,” he said.
“I will confer with my client and attempt to determine what we will do next,” Sears told the Town Council. “I would request you reconsider. This is no where in the ballpark.”
St. John resident Audrey Klaich also spoke about the district’s request for that waiver fee during the public comment period.
“To ask for and approve the waiver of the building permit fee is a disservice and wholly unreasonable request,” she said. “To place further tax burden upon the residents of St. John for a building that services two other communities is irresponsible and unjustifiable.”
Klaich said the money collected from the Lake Central High School building permit “would be a much-needed financial boost to the community instead of a financial draining of St. John’s citizens.”