An estimated $300,000 will not be collected for parks and trails in Greenwood this year after a fee developers have paid for more than 11 years expired.
Since 2004, builders, contractors and residents have had to pay a fee on any new home built in the city, which goes toward new park construction or improvements. The fee brings in about $300,000 per year, which has paid for improvements to City Center Park and new trails in the past.
But since April, the $1,175 fee has not been collected on any new homes built and won’t be until at least next April.
The reason: A five-year plan that specified how the money should be spent expired and wasn’t renewed.
Story continues below gallery
Park impact fees are charged when new homes are built to help provide more parks and trails to the families moving in. The fee can only go toward new elements that the park did not have before, such as new trail systems, shelter houses, trail signs, restroom improvements, new features like a splash pad or buying land to establish another park, Franklin parks director Chip Orner said. For example, Franklin used some of the money collected to build a shelter house in Blue Heron Park and new trails, he said.
Each city parks department creates a five-year park impact fee plan, which describes how the money collected from the fee should be spent and how many more residents are estimated to come to the city within those five years. Every five years, the parks department has to do another study and approve a new plan. Franklin, which charges a fee of $366 per new home, has a plan that expires next year, and officials have started work to get ready to renew it.
Greenwood has not approved a new plan after the 2010-2015 plan expired in April. A new plan would have to be approved by the park board, the plan commission and the city council, and then the city has to wait six months before the fee can be collected, Greenwood city attorney Krista Taggart said.
That means the earliest that all of the city groups could approve the plan is October, and the earliest the fee would be collected again is April.
The mayor and city attorney said the need to renew the plan was overlooked.
Parks director Rob Taggart said his office wanted to take more time to find where the city is lacking in parks-related needs, like trails or fields, and make the impact plan as effective as possible.
The park impact study that is needed to finalize the plan is done, Rob Taggart said. A team was hired in 2013 to conduct the park impact study, Krista Taggart said.
With the park impact study complete, Rob Taggart said, he wants city boards to look over the findings, project where the city will grow during the next five years and figure out which park projects are needed in order to meet the demand.
The city will lose out on money while the fee isn’t being charged from new subdivisions that have been proposed in the city that are expected to begin building within the next year. For example, Heritage Trace subdivision, near Worthsville Road and Emerson Avenue, is slated to start construction this fall and bring about 100 new homes to the city. A new subdivision, Cherry Tree Walk, will have 296 homes built on 150 acres at Honey Creek and Cutsinger roads.
“It’s not ideal,” Rob Taggart said of the lapsed fee. But he added he isn’t worried about the potential of losing money.
In the past, impact fees have gone toward City Center Park in Greenwood and new trail systems in the city, such as along Averitt Road and Stop 18 Road, he said.
Once a new plan is approved and the fee is collected again, the parks department wants to use some of the money on land acquisition for new parks, Rob Taggart said.
Some of the fees will be used on the Greenwood Community Center, which is being renovated over the next year. Although fees cannot go toward renovated areas, the fees can be used for new portions of a park or building, such as the indoor playground area planned for the center, Krista Taggart said. Other construction costs for renovations are being paid for with other city dollars, she said.
Cities can charge fees on new construction, such as housing developments and apartment buildings, and that money is set aside for parks projects. Greenwood’s park impact fee stopped in April, and no fees can be collected until a new plan is approved.
When park impact plan expired: April
Earliest a new plan can begin: Next April
Fee per single-family home: $1,175
Estimated annual collection: $300,000
Year the fee started: 2004
Park impact plan runs out: July
When a new plan needs to be approved: January
Fee per single-family home: $366
Estimated annual collection: $18,666 in 2014
Year the fee started: 2006