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Park Renovation Plan in Ft. Mitchell Currently Over Budget

The City of Fort Mitchell's park board meets Tuesday night to set priorities and to outline options for the renovation of General Ormbsy Mitchel Park.

At last week's city council meeting, Parks Director Kyle Bennett explained that a bid was received for $1.26 million and that he, engineers, and the board are hoping to reduce that cost.

The bulk of the bid came in the form of a proposed $826,000 for demolition work, with $435,000 planned for a new building with restrooms.

Some of the possible cost-cutting measures could be the elimination of some planned parking, which originally included lots on both sides of the current park area, and a walking path decreased from a width of eight feet to six feet. That alone removed $95,000 from the cost.

"You're looking at about $1.1 million right now," Bennett told council.

The bid received is good until the end of September.

Mayor Jude Hehman explained that at $1.1 million, the plan is still $300,000 over what was budgeted by the city, which collects a tax for its parks and has also in the past issued a loan to the park board that was quickly paid back.

Hehman said that there is no precise plan for the city's role in assisting the funding for the Ormbsy Mitchel Park renovation.

"Where we maybe failed a little as a city is we have a capital replacement (fund), like a fire truck, so the minute we buy a fire truck we start saving for it again and I don't think we've done a good job with that with the park," the mayor said. The city has kept the field in good shape and purchased equipment for the park, though, he said.

"But this is a very large capital need," Hehman said, noting that the plan also includes an update for handicap accessibility.

Plans to reimagine the park were first brought to the public for consideration in 2017. What it could ultimately look like is uncertain, making the city's role unclear.

"It is too preliminary and the fact that the park board hasn't given us a whole lot of details," Hehman said.

One apparent guarantee, Bennett said, is that the tennis courts will be redone. He called that aspect of the project "a high priority."

Other notes:

City council also discussed Fort Mitchell's tax rates compared to other Kenton County cities, emphasizing that the city has never implemented a tangible tax, which is levied on inventory, furniture, and fixtures inside commercial properties.

A question had been raised over whether such a tax is supposed to be mandatory in Kentucky and while the city had received some conflicting opinions, City Attorney Claire Parsons said that she doesn't believe it is so. 

"It my view of the statute and looking at the constitutional provisions, it looked like it was permissive," she said. "A specific statute authorizes the city to do this and it is my understanding that the vast majority of cities do assess taxes on this type of property."

Hehman said that the conversation was "just educational" before readings begin later this month on the city's forthcoming tax rates.

When those rates are established, council agreed to offer a 30-day grace period for payments. The due date is typically October 31, but it will be extended a month.

The city council meets again on September 21.

Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher

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