Fees likely to fund parks

SNOHOMISH – The city hopes to make housing developers help pay for future parks.

The City Council recently discussed whether to start collecting impact fees for parks from new housing developments. The city would use the money to buy land for new parks and to fund major projects at existing parks.

“The question is not a matter of if, but a matter of how much we should charge,” Mayor Randy Hamlin said.

The city is mulling over how much money to charge against housing projects and how to collect the money, city officials said. The City Council likely will vote on the issue in a few months, Hamlin said.

Snohomish and Edmonds are the only two Snohomish County cities that don’t have park impact fees.

“I think it’s overdue,” Snohomish City Councilwoman Lya Badgley said.

Monroe, a rapidly growing city, charges $4,632 per single-family house to provide funding for parks. That’s the most among cities countywide.

The average park impact fee is about $1,000 per single-family home.

Snohomish should set its park fees at that average, Hamlin said. The fees would apply only to residential developments, not to commercial developments, he said.

Snohomish expects new housing developments in its northwestern areas, city officials said. A new park needs to be created for those who would live in those developments, Badgley said.

Money for park projects now comes from the city’s general fund. The projects face tough competition from other core city services such as police, Badgley said.

The park impact fees are needed “to create dedicated funding that goes to parks,” she said.

Reporter Yoshiaki Nohara: 425-339-3029 or ynohara@heraldnet.com.

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