06/06/12 Not many people took advantage of the Public Hearing Monday evening during the Plymouth Park Board meeting to comment on the proposal to extend park services to Center and West Townships.  Less than an dozen citizens came to the meeting although it was clear that they were opposed to the plan to tax citizens in the townships.

Park Board President Dave Morrow said an intern conducted a survey of citizens using the park last summer and found that 57% of the users were from outside the city limits although it did not specifically list out which townships they were from. Because of those results the park board decided to consider extending park services to the two townships so users could share in the responsibility of operating the park system.

A petition drive was conducted with a total of 69 certified signatures from West Township and 51 from Center Township.  It was explained that 2% of the total votes for the Secretary of State in the last election represents the required number of signatures to move the plan on to the Park Board.  Two percent for West Township would be 27 and 40 in Center Township.

Terry Borggren, West Township Trustee calculated that his personal property tax would increase by $77.  He gave another example, a farmer in West Township who has $130,000 in personal property plus 500 acres of land in both townships.  If Center Township voted to expand services and West did not his tax would increase by $714.  If West voted in favor and Center did not the impact would be an increase of $143.  If both townships voted in favor the increase would be $630.

One lady in the audience, obviously from West Township asked why the park board didn’t just require the Blueberry Festival to charge a $1 admission fee to adults attending the festival so the park could use that funding source to extend services instead of a tax on the township residents.

When asked what expansion of services the park was proposing, it was noted that funds would be used to service facilities they already have.  A study committee is working on a major tennis court project and an exploratory committee is looking at a pool project.  Another new committee will be working on an all-inclusive playground too.  A question on a park in West Township was asked and park board member Jim Causey said former West Township Trustee Lloyd Anderson had talked about such but it had never went any further.  The park board does not have any current plans to extend a park into the townships but could consider it in the future.

After about a 30 minute discussion and question and answer period the Plymouth Park Board voted unanimously to send a favorable recommendation to the City Council to extend park services to Center and West Townships.

If the City Council were to approve a resolution the matter will be placed on the ballot in November for registered voters to make the ultimate decision.