Buyers of new homes in Gilbert shouldn’t pay the town’s entire cost for new public pools, the Homebuilders Association of Central Arizona argued this week to the Gilbert Town Council.
The Town Council on Tuesday approved a five-year plan for its growth and construction needs, which includes costs for construction of new pools the town will share at two new high schools in the Chandler and Higley unified school districts.
At issue were $3 million in system development fees that would be collected in fiscal year 2007-08 to pay the town’s share for pools at Perry High School in the Chandler district and Williams Field High School in the Higley district.
The town collects the developer fees for each new home built. The fees are generally passed on to the buyer. The fees are intended to help pay for infrastructure needed by the increased population, such as fire stations, new parks, street lights and roads.
“The public can only use these pools largely between Memorial Day and Labor Day,” said Lauren Barnett, a deputy director for the association. “We simply would like a little more discussion about ensuring new growth is only paying for literally 100 percent of its true growth.”
The town shares pools with schools to cut costs. The schools maintain the pools during the year and use them for physical education and school swim competition.
During the summer, the town opens the pools to public swimming. The town also offers swimming classes and teams year-round.
Barnett argued that while she understood the reasoning behind sharing the pools, it’s unfair to require new residents to pay the entire cost for the town’s share, when new residents can use them only on a limited basis.
Council members, however, said the costs were fair, since the schools were paying the entire cost of land, meaning the fees were much lower than they would have been otherwise. And, they added, the pools are primarily used in the summer by residents.
“We operate at a time of the year when most people are using the pool,” Councilman Don Skousen said.
After approving the fiveyear plan, the council preliminarily approved a 17 percent increase in development fees specifically for fiscal year 2007-08.
A public hearing on the fee increase is scheduled for April 3, and any officially approved increase would take effect July 16.