Billings Council will mull letting go of $100K reserve to help build waterslide

2014-03-10T00:00:00Z 2014-03-10T15:00:08Z Billings Council will mull letting go of $100K reserve to help build waterslideBy MIKE FERGUSON The Billings Gazette

The Billings City Council will be asked Monday to return a $100,000 reserve to the Better Billings Foundation to help the organization install another waterslide at the Oasis Water Park.

The city council meets in regular session at 6:30 p.m. in council chambers. The meeting will include a public hearing on the request, the last item of business on Monday’s agenda.

According to a memo by City Administrator Tina Volek, the reserve, in the form of an letter of credit, was required as part of a 2009 funding and development agreement with the foundation, which together with Harvest Church created the Oasis, 543 Aronson Ave.

The city donated 6.7 acres to the foundation with the provision that the land and the facility revert to city ownership if the water park ceased operation. If that were to occur, the city could use the letter of credit to fund demolition or repairs.

The foundation has raised about $80,000 to fund the waterslide, which will cost about $100,000. The interest the foundation accrues on a certificate of deposit pays the cost of the letter of credit; the foundation wants the letter of credit released so that it can use up to $25,000 from the CD to pay the rest of the waterslide cost, with the remainder going into a maintenance fund.

The city’s Parks, Recreation and Cemetery Board, which met twice to consider the request, recommends that the city council deny the foundation’s request.

Before taking up whether to grant the foundation's request, the city council plans another public hearing on something else foundational: budget amendments for the current fiscal year.

According to a memo by Finance Director Patrick Weber, the budget amendments cover a variety of unanticipated expenditures during the 2013-14 fiscal year, including

— The purchase of new radios for police and firefighters

— An additional employee in the building department to help process plan reviews

— Two drug detection and enforcement dogs for the police department, which were paid for by police fundraising

— Higher wages for summer seasonal employees in the Parks, Recreation and Public Lands Department. The pay increase is needed to pay competitive wages to seasonal workers in parks, aquatic, forestry and cemetery positions.

The city council is also scheduled to consider a bond resolution for a Special Improvement District to cover the cost of constructing the $176,000 Boca Raton Road from Clubhouse Way to Annandale Road.

After bids for the work came in higher than expected during the summer of 2013, public works staff re-evaluated the design of the project; the bids on the redesign proved acceptable, according to Weber.

The cost of the project will be assessed to property owners who benefit.

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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