LONGMONT — Longmont's $1 a month park maintenance fee will become $2 in 2014, the City Council decided in a 4-3 vote Tuesday.
The move is part of a package to pay for long-term park upkeep and renewal of the city's parks. In just the next 10 years, Longmont's costs for renewing the parks system — existing and parks not yet built — will go up by $9.4 million. The $2 fee would offset that, but it also means renewing a charge the council had hoped to sunset.
"I say we maintain what we have and we don't build anything else," a disgusted Councilman Gabe Santos said. "I won't be voting for this."
He was joined in opposition by councilwomen Katie Witt and Sarah Levison. Mayor Dennis Coombs voted for the measure, along with councilmen Brian Bagley and Alex Sammoury and Councilwoman Bonnie Finley.
Sammoury noted that even if no new parks were built, parks would still age and need renewal and maintenance, and the cost of keeping up the parks system would still have to be met.
"I know some on the council don't like the idea of using a fee or having a tax, but I don't see any other way," he said.
The city also expects to spend $49 million over the next 10 years for maintenance of the park and trail system, which would come from a combination of the open space fund, the conservation trust fund and the general fund.
Public works director Dale Rademacher noted that keeping up with the renewal costs could keep the maintenance costs down over time.
"Like the adage says, if you put a new roof on the house, you don't have to patch it every year," he said.
The vote includes the fee as part of the 2014 budget, which will be voted on later this year.