Archive for Thursday, February 6, 2003

City exploring possibility of revamping park fee

February 6, 2003

Aware that the amount of money and land collected for parks in Eudora isn't adequate, the city is doing something about it.

The Eudora City Council decided at its Jan. 13 meeting it would have City Attorney Jerry Cooley look into the possibility of increasing the park fund fees charged to developers. The city's recreation commission discussed the need for an increase in fees and suggested charging $300 on final plats as well as building permits. As approved three years ago, developers are required to give $200 per lot or a comparably priced parcel of land. Developers are charged an additional fee of 6 cents per square foot for commercial developments and 12 cents per square foot for industrial developments.

"We felt the fees were too low two years ago," said Council member Rex Burkhardt. "Land gains value all the time."

Council member Don Durkin suggested eliminating the clause that allows developers to donate land rather than money.

"They want us to take the swamp land," he said.

In the past, city officials have said most developers chose to pay the fee, because in the long run it was cheaper for them to pay $200 than it was for them to donate park-worthy land.

"We're seeing all the builders are taking the fee option, which for them is the cheap way out," said Council member Willene Blackburn. "It's not accruing very fast."

As a comparison, Durkin said towns like Olathe and Gardner dredged up taxes to pay for parks, and De Soto charged 14 cents per foot to developers.

"We're trying to find something that will fit us," he said.

The way the city acquires money and land for parks has come up as the city discusses where -- and how -- it might add a park to Eudora. The town lacks municipal green space both east of Church Street and south of Kansas Highway 10, areas where much of the town's growth is accumulating.

Durkin said the intention was to have the fee pay for new parks, not to upgrade existing parks.

City Attorney Cooley said such a change wouldn't go into effect until passing and publication of the change. If the Council approved the changes, one issue it would face was whether the fees would apply retroactively to already-platted developments. Cooley said that would be a politically charged decision for the Council.

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