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Park Board sets payment plan for Lake Patterson

The Dickinson Park Board will increase the permit fee for residents around Lake Patterson gradually by 33 percent over the next five years, after the president signed Sen. John Hoeven's, R-N.D., legislation into law last week.

The Dickinson Park Board will increase the permit fee for residents around Lake Patterson gradually by 33 percent over the next five years, after the president signed Sen. John Hoeven's, R-N.D., legislation into law last week.

These residents own their homes but not the land they sit on. Earlier this year the Bureau of Reclamation was going to increase the permit fees for homeowners living around Lake Patterson anywhere from 90 percent to 135 percent, Hoeven said. He drew up his legislation to prevent that dramatic increase - initially not allowing for any increase at all. The county then explained that it needed there to be some increase in order to cover the area's maintenance costs, and it settled on the 33 percent increase over five years.

Hoeven explained that the bureau had appraised the land based on oil boom prices and failed to take into account that the oil prices have since fallen.

The board approved the Patterson Lake Homeowner's Association's proposed payment schedule as well on Wednesday, which would break up the fee into three installments over the course of 2017. James Kramer, director of park and recreation, advised the board not to commit to a payment plan for the years beyond 2017.

"They have identified a schedule for the years '18 through '21, but I really recommend only looking at year '17 for now and addressing the rest as we move forward," Kramer said. "... Not knowing what's going to happen and what may alter that, I don't feel comfortable locking in, but the fee is set."

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The homeowners will pay $3,026 for 2017 broken up between $1,420 paid in January and May and the remaining $186 to be paid in September. The 2016 fee was $2,839 and the fee for 2021 will be $3,774.

"That was very specific in how it identified what we could do," Kramer said. "Basically it said during the five years of the enactment of this act we can raise the fee by 33 percent by what the permit actually was Jan. 1 of 2016. So it's not the 33 percent of the fee increase the Bureau (of Reclamation) proposed, but it's a 33 percent increase from what the fee was Jan. 1 of 2016-which was the $2,839."

Hoeven has also written another bill that has not yet been filed but likely will early next year, said the senator's regional director, Jon Cameron.

This new bill, if passed, would give the homeowners the first opportunity to purchase the plots of land within two years after the bill became law. If the homeowner fails to purchase the land within that two-year period, the land will be transferred to the Park Board, according to the bill. The bill would also require that land managed by the Park Board, on which there is no residence, would also be transferred to the Park Board after those two years.

If the new bill does not pass, then the board will continue its intended five-year plan.

"So if Sen. Hoeven's new bill that would potentially be introduced is not passed, we will follow this for five years, there will be another reappraisal by the bureau and then in essence we will be back to square one again, where we were," Kramer said.

If it does pass, the Park Board would own whichever lots the homeowners did not purchase within that two-year period, he said. It would then construct a new permit system for those homeowners who did not buy the land.

Commissioner Scott Karsky asked what the Park Board would do if all the homeowners purchased their plots of land because the money for the permits on that land had been used to maintain the area. Kramer said he envisioned Patterson Lake as being part of the general fund and would therefore be supported by tax dollars, minus any revenue generated by the park - such as camping fees and visitor fees.

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Cameron said Hoeven is still open to input if anyone wants to make adjustments to the bill.

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