Council Corner – Withdrawal from NCPRD

A couple weeks ago, the City Council passed a resolution directing staff members to begin conversations with the North Clackamas Parks and Recreation District (NCPRD) regarding a withdrawal from the district. While the City Council has been discussing the future of parks service in Happy Valley for several years, we recognize that many residents may not have been following the issue closely.

Since 2005, Happy Valley has been part of the NCPRD. As the Mayor’s Message highlighted, service districts worked well when Happy Valley was a much smaller community and the City didn’t have the resources available to meet the local demands. Now, with a reasonably sized city that is continually growing, the City Council is re-evaluating the service district model. Happy Valley is at a unique place in its history, with different priorities than other nearby communities and the Council feels the City is in a better position to make decisions that meet the needs of our local community.

For several years, the community has expressed a need for the addition of all-weather turf fields, completion of Mt. Scott Creek Trail, construction of a community recreation center, and more neighborhood parks. If the City were to become the provider of parks services, it would allow us to determine which parks investments get made and on what timeline.

Furthermore, with each new development application that comes to the City, we are often asked what amenities and infrastructure will be built to support the growth. As the parks provider, the City would be able to work more directly with developers to direct investments in our parks system that meet local needs.

Beyond parks development, most people have wondered what this could mean for their local taxes. Currently, NCPRD has a permanent local property tax equal to $0.54 per $1,000 of assessed value of property inside Happy Valley. If the City withdraws from the district, that permanent tax would go away for residents in Happy Valley and we would need to replace it with our own operating levy. Before we get to that point, there will be much more discussion and public outreach to determine the level of services our residents expect and the revenue that is needed to fund those services.

In order for the City to withdraw from NCPRD, the first step will be a public hearing on May 16, 2017 at City Hall. In the meantime, staff members will continue to work with NCPRD on a smooth transition. Following the public hearing, staff members will resume conversations and present a final agreement between the City and NCPRD detailing a division of assets in the City.