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No park levy vote coming

Funding of North Dam Park still uncertain

 


Voters will not be asked this fall to decide on paying taxes toward the maintenance of North Dam Park, leaders of the park district decided Monday.

“I’d love to see us do a levy,” said Coulee Area Park and Recreation District Commissioner Phil Hansen, “but I think we had better put it off.”

That was the unanimous feeling of commissioners, who had been considering the tiny junior taxing district’s third attempt to actually collect a tax, having lost two earlier elections.

The decision came following commission President Bob Valen’s report on a visit with Okanogan County Auditor, Scott Furman, who laid out the process and prospects for Valen.

Even if a levy were to pass, only six cents per thousand dollars of assessed valuation would be available for the district under state law at this time.

The state limits the total amount per thousand that can be tapped by taxing districts to $5.90. Multi-county districts must adhere to that restriction for the highest-value county with in their borders. For CAPRD, that’s Grant County, where taxpayers are already at $5.84.

The bottom line, Valen said, is that the district could garner only about $17,000 through a levy rate of six cents, but even that could be lost to any other junior taxing district whose voters passed a levy. Park and recreation districts are at the bottom of the state priority list for that $5.90.

An election would cost the district $800 to $1,200, and there is no guarantee that another, higher-priority district wouldn’t also be seeking a boost.

Levy support would have gone for the maintenance of North Dam Park, which the district took over when it was abandoned by the city of Grand Coulee several years ago. Annual costs for that run higher than $30,000, which the park district has funded with grants from local towns and a match from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

The towns, however, have given some resistance to continued funding of the “North Dam Park and Events Center” with hotel/motel taxes designated for tourism support.

“It doesn’t mean we can never do this in the future,” Valen noted, “It’s just something that we’re going to have to be aware of.”

The commissioners agreed to consider the idea again, probably in the spring.

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