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THPRD budget proposal funds new jobs, scaled-back adventure facility

Committee supports $100 million budget with $44.4 million general fund


The Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District’s proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year reflects a greater commitment to embracing diversity, more outreach and marketing efforts and the scaling back of plans for a proposed adventure recreation center.

The district’s Budget Committee approved a $100 million budget for 2014-15 last week, including a $44.4 million general fund generated from a combination of property tax revenue and district user fees.

With no public comment at the Monday, May 12, meeting, the committee voted unanimously to levy the district’s permanent tax rate of $1.31 per $1,000 of assessed property value. Along with general obligation bond debt funding of 41 cents per 1,000, the amount is expected to channel $26 million in property tax revenue to the district in the coming fiscal year.

Among other goals, the budget — which the park district Board of Directors will consider at its June 2 meeting — reflects the district’s efforts to eliminate barriers that may limit participation from some segments of the community, noted district General Manager Doug Menke.

Driven by a Portland State University study, efforts including funding for a new full-time inclusion coordinator in the Human Resources Department to enhance recruitment, training processes and outreach to minorities; funding to update the district’s Americans with Disabilities Act Transition Plan to address access to programs and services and to implement tools for front-desk staff to better serve non-English-speaking patrons.

The proposed budget will support 181 full-time positions for the 2014-15 fiscal year, increasing staff by four new positions and decreasing by four unfilled and two eliminated positions from the 2013-14 fiscal-year budget.

New positions include the inclusion coordinator, a marketing specialist, a loss control and claims specialist, and a PSU Fellowship intern designated to focus on marketing and outreach. A seasonal irrigation specialist position will increase from part- to full-time status.

The budget eliminates 2.5 positions associated with operating the historic Jenkins Estate in Aloha. The district entered into a two-year contract last summer with Portland-based Elephants Catering to assume event management and catering operations at the popular, scenic facility.

The 2014-15 budget eliminates an Enterprise Fund project for a proposed Adventure Recreation Center with climbing walls and training equipment for mountain and rock climbers, kayakers and whitewater rafters. Due diligence on the facility, which was proposed in early 2013, determined it was not financially feasible as envisioned, Menke said in his budget message. Instead, the district plans to incorporate amenities and programs envisioned for the facility into existing district facilities through other funding sources in a future budget cycle.

The district’s Systems Development Charges fund estimates a carryover balance of approximately $6.5 million, leaving $4.3 million available for new project commitments and $3 million of new SDC revenues expected in the coming fiscal year. The combined resources are targeted to provide $2 million of new funds to acquire land in the North Bethany area, and $2.5 million for new projects, leaving approximately $2.7 million for appropriation.

SDCs are assessed to developers to offset costs of creating parks, trails and other public amenities to accommodate new residents and employees the developments bring.

“While residential construction activity has been at very low levels for the past several years, we have seen notable increases in construction activity over the past year, and our SDC revenue projection reflects continued growth,” Menke said in his budget message. “Due to the uncertainty in the level of SDC activity and the SDC rates, however, the five-year SDC cash flow projections include a revenue estimation reserve that offsets 40 to 50 percent of estimated revenue.”

From the $100 million bond measure district voters approved in 2008, about $65 million in cumulative project expenditures is set aside for 2014-15. Two development categories, facility expansions and deferred park maintenance replacements, are completed. Progress is being made in all project categories, with many large construction projects completed or slated to begin this spring and summer.

The district Board of Directors will consider the budget at its meeting on June 2 at 6:30 p.m. at 15707 S.W. Walker Road.