Greenwood losing $300,000 for parks projects

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GREENWOOD (September 29, 2015) - The city of Greenwood is losing out on about $300,000 in fees because the city failed to renew a spending plan to collect them.

Greenwood has collected the $1,145 fees on newly built homes since 2004.  Money from the fees pays for additions to city parks and trails.  The money can only be used to add new elements to parks like new construction or improvements.

But the fees can only be collected if a city has a five-year plan in place to determine how the money will be spent.

Greenwood’s spending plan expired in April, so the fees have not been collected since then.  And the city has yet to approve a new spending plan for the next five years.

Greenwood Parks Director Rob Taggart says there is a spending plan written up, but there were delays in forming and organizing a study committee to come up with the best plan to spend the fees.

“With peoples’ schedules and trying to assimilate the group,” Taggart said.  “It was difficult in getting peoples’ valuable time to form that committee.”

Taggart says his office wanted to closely study the needs around Greenwood parks.  And the study committee has identified the best ways to spend the money collected from the new home fees.

But the delay in writing the plan will mean Greenwood will go a full year without access to the $300,000.  The spending plan must be approved by the city Parks Board, the Plan Commission and Greenwood City Council.  Taggart says the final approval should come in October.  But after the plan is approved, the city must wait six months before collecting the new home fees.

That means Greenwood will go from April 2015 to April 2016 without collecting the fees.

Taggart says he considered collecting the fees retroactively as part of the new plan, but was advised against it because of rules requiring a spending plan be in place at the time of collection.

Taggart says it is unfortunate to miss out on $300,000 for parks improvements, but no existing projects will suffer as a result.  He said the 2016 may play a role in upcoming improvements at the Greenwood Community Center.

“It does seem like somebody dropped the ball,” said Greenwood resident Dean Smith.  “So much good could have been done with that kind of money and it just didn’t happen.”

Smith, who frequents Greenwood parks, says he’s normally happy with his city’s government.  But not in this case.

“I like to see my government be effective and efficient, and this seems like another example of ineffectiveness in our government,” Smith said.

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