New funding proposed for green space and parks
A proposal to increase building permit fees to cover the cost of new park lands will be on the Mandan City Commission agenda on Tuesday.
The Mandan Park Board unanimously approved a motion on Dec. 9 that would raise fees to $250 per multi-family apartment complex, $500 for each new house built and $1,000 for each new commercial development. That recommendation must be approved by the city commission.
“Had the fees increased in 2013, we would have had enough to do another park,” said Mandan Parks and Recreation Director Cole Higlin, referring to the rapid development in the city.
Higlin requested his board recommend raising the $100 per development park fee for all building projects. The same $100 fee has been charged to developers since the early 1980s for any type of project. Because park permit fees have not changed for 30 years in Mandan, it has limited the park district’s ability to buy or add park land, according to Higlin. The old fees have not kept up with higher commercial land values, he said.
The park fees will be used by the park district to buy land to meet green space needs as the city grows.
For Mandan officials, the plan for higher green space fees brings them back full circle. Higlin originally proposed the same rate schedule in August 2012. He withdrew the plan as Mandan city officials waited to see what kind of park plan Bismarck developed.
Bismarck originally proposed that developers pay a fee amounting to 7 percent of a development’s land or donate 7 percent of the land for a park. Developers opposed Bismarck’s pay or donate plan because they didn’t want to give up valuable commercial land. In October, the Bismarck City Commission approved a plan that has neighborhoods pay for smaller parks in new developments with special assessment property taxes instead.
Mandan officials said there are better ways to pay for new park land. “Based on the ongoing discussions regarding ways to reduce the city’s special assessment debt, I doubt the city commission would be in favor of following the path that Bismarck has chosen,” City Administrator Jim Neubauer said.
By LeAnn Eckroth