The city of Vancouver owes the Evergreen and Vancouver school districts nearly $1.6 million after neglecting to update its computer system for almost three months following a school impact fee increase in January. In addition, builders of Evergreen district homes were overcharged.
As a result of the city’s error, developers of more than a dozen single-family and multi-unit housing development projects were undercharged by thousands of dollars each. The city has consulted with its attorneys and determined that legally, it cannot go back to the developers and demand more money, said Chad Eiken, the city’s community and economic development director. The state Land Use Petition Act limits the ability of the city to collect the difference because the land-use decisions were not appealed and therefore are final, he said.
City Manager Eric Holmes has met with superintendents of both school districts about paying the money in a time frame “that meets everyone’s interests,” he said Thursday. However, even though the school districts understand it was a mistake, they won’t forgive the debt. The city owes $1.19 million to Evergreen Public Schools and $393,000 to Vancouver Public Schools.
“Oh, heavens no,” Superintendent John Deeder of Evergreen Public Schools said Thursday. “I can’t forgive the money. … I’ve got to look my taxpayers in the eye. We need facilities. I can’t forgive a million dollars, or whatever it is.”
Pat Nuzzo, communications director for Vancouver Public Schools, said, “We are collaborating with city staff on resolving this matter in a way the works for the city, the school district and our taxpayers.”