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Tualatin Hills Park & Recreation District budget holds the line for 2015-16

It will largely be business as usual in the Tualatin Hills Park & Recreation District during the coming year, judging from the proposed 2015-16 budget unveiled this week.THPRD

“There’s nothing in the budget that we would expect users to notice,” other than a modest increase in programs such as more recreation activities for teens, said Keith Hobson, the district’s director of business and facilities. “This isn’t a budget of change; it’s a budget of progress.”

The district’s general fund, which pays day-to-day operating costs including personnel, materials and services, is increasing by about $3 million to $48.1 million.

The income boost includes higher tax receipts as new construction and the value of existing properties increase, thanks to the improving economy. Money shifted from last year also started the budget out on a higher footing, and money from two major roofing projects in the current year’s budget also is being carried into the new budget year, Hobson said.

The district’s Systems Development Charge fund also is ballooning thanks to increased construction, with projected income of $16.2 million that can be used for new parks and facilities in areas where new growth is paying the way but also raising the demand for services, such as in the North Bethany and South Cooper Mountain areas. The fund was just $1.3 million two years ago, before the recovery took hold in the construction industry, and hit $9.4 million during the current year.

Overall, the proposed budget actually would eliminate the equivalent of nearly four full-time positions in the district, but Hobson said these jobs were left unfilled as the district streamlines operations and won’t require actual layoffs.

One staff addition proposed is a new full-time clerical position to better track ongoing maintenance needs, Hobson added. That’s part of the district’s continuing effort to stay ahead of maintenance to avoid larger problems and unplanned closures. Another part of that goal is the creation of a new capital replacement reserve, seeded with $850,000 in the new budget.

The new budget will pay for a number of other capital projects, with major items on the to-do list for 2015-16 including: resurfacing the pool tank at Harman Swim Center; replacing the parking lot at Hazeldale Park; and teaming with the Beaverton School District to replace a synthetic turf field at Sunset High School and build a new one at Conestoga Middle School.

The following are a few additional projects that would be funded in the next budget if approved as proposed:

  • Conduct an American with Disabilities Act audit to address access to programs and services
  • Develop a mobile app to help patrons better connect with district services and staff
  • Continue a recently started Opiniator system that allows park and facility users to provide real-time feedback
  • Improve technology aimed at sustainability, including more LED lighting, irrigation upgrades and a pilot project to test solar-powered trash compactors.

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