Bothell increases school impact fees

Fees benefit the Northshore School District.

School impact fees are increasing in Bothell.

At the Dec. 3 city council meeting, an ordinance amending how much in school impact fees single-and multi-family residential units are charged was unanimously passed.

The money accrued from the fees goes to the Northshore School District (NSD), which will in turn use the money on construction and other capacity-related needs.

Impact fees are one-time charges against new development projects. They intend to help meet a new demand that has been created by a project’s construction and support capital facilities like schools, parks and other resources.

At last week’s meeting, Joe Paperman, chief operations officer for NSD, discussed the population increase the district has seen over the last decade. Over the past six years, according to Paperman, enrollment grew by 2,694 students, with 1,377 of those students enrolling within the last two years. In the meantime, 1,631 single-family homes and 2,493 multi-family units are, as Paperman described, “in the pipeline.”

Because of the increased population growth, NSD officials want to ensure that it can foster more capacity to support mounting enrollment.

“We’re seeing a significant uptick in the number of students who want to move to this area just to be in the Northshore School District…We expect to see continued growth for the next several years,” Paperman said.

He noted at the meeting that the school district is already working to accommodate population growth. Through a bond approved by voters last year, construction on a new elementary school on Maltby Road has begun and is set to open in September 2020. A 30-classroom building for joint use between Skyview Middle School and Canyon Creek Elementary School will see a phased opening between January and September 2020. In addition, Northshore Concert Hall at Inglemoor High School and a new music instruction space are slated to open in September 2021.

The ordinance passed by the council, which amends previous school impact fees, takes the single-family unit fee number to $20,092, with multi-family growing to $3,540. These numbers previously stood at $16,038 and $1,818, respectively.

According to Paperman, the proportionate impact of a unit is determined by the student-generation rate — the ratio of the number of enrolled students to the number of dwelling units in an area of interest. New capacity construction costs, according to the council meeting agenda, address other growth-related prices in the calculation of the fee.

Prior to the vote, councilmembers had questions about the particulars of the fees pertaining to subjects like where they can and cannot be applied and how other cities compare.

Councilmember Jeanne Zornes was especially supportive of the amendment, as she has witnessed firsthand the setbacks that can come when a school cannot properly accommodate its students.

“As a substitute teacher in the Northshore School District, I have seen my share of portables…A permanent structure would be welcomed on so many levels,” she said, adding, “Putting impact fees on new construction is so sorely needed.”

For the full conversation around school impact fees, go to To learn more about the background and details of the fees, go to