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Park levy raises concerns


Park district commissioners heard concerns from a taxpayer Monday night on their hopes to collect taxes after a vote next November.

Dave McClure, a rancher with a lot of property north of Nespelem, said he would have tried to disuade the commission from going for the vote had he known of their plans.

In the November election, the Coulee Area Park and Recreation District will seek a levy of 15 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value, which would cost the owner of a $120,000 home $18 a year.

CAPRD is a junior taxing district, but has never collected taxes. Local municipalities have propped up its efforts to save North Dam Park and Event Center by feeding it taxes collected on room and campground stays, money earmarked by law for the support of tourism.

The agency can get grants, but those often require matching money, plus popular support. The election can supply the money and strong evidence of support.

But McClure won’t be giving his. With a lot of land, much of it in unprofitable timber, he said, he would have to pay a lot for something he won’t use.

McClure took time off from haying to attend the meeting, which started late as two commissioners waited for a third and a quorum, meeting on the steps of Grand Coulee Dam Middle School.

He had also been under the mistaken impression that the levy would be used to support a community wellness center now under discussion.

Not so, commissioners said. The levy money will be used to help support and upgrade North Dam Park and increase recreational opportunities in the area, and to match grants to accomplish these things, including a $50,000 grant from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation currently in the works.

“Chances are,” said Commissioner Mike Bjorklund, “if we have to rely on a levy to build the wellness center, it won’t get built.”

Instead, commissioners noted, a study delivered last week said such a center is feasible in the area with other forms of support, the bulk of it coming from membership fees.

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