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Pool district expansion planner pushes for fall measure

If successful, Scappoose would become part of tax district including Eisenschmidt Pool


Photo Credit: FILE - A boy leaps from the Eisenschmidt Pool's climbing wall into the water last summer, shortly after the wall's installation. Poolgoers from outside the Greater St. Helens Parks and Recreation District have to pay a higher rate for fitness classes, swim lessons and pool memberships than district residents, who pay a small portion of property taxes toward the pool's upkeep.The manager of the Eisenschmidt Pool in St. Helens said she plans to move ahead with her proposal to expand the pool district south into Scappoose Tuesday, July 29, and an annexation measure could appear on the ballot as soon as Nov. 4.

Anne Scholz wants the Greater St. Helens Parks & Recreation District to include Scappoose and the surrounding area. The Scappoose Parks & Recreation District was dissolved in 2010 after failing to establish a tax base to support it.

“I haven’t gotten it officially on the ballot yet, but that’s where I’m heading,” Scholz said.

Scholz went before both the Scappoose City Council and the Columbia County Board of Commissioners last month. Members of both voiced support for the idea.

Scholz has framed the proposed annexation of the Scappoose area into the pool district as a win-win situation.

“The deal was, they would start paying the same taxes we’re paying and I would get rid of our out-of-district rates [for lessons and memberships], so that’s the tradeoff,” Scholz explained to the Board of Commissioners on Wednesday, July 23.

The pool district currently levies about 23 and a half cents per $1,000 of assessed value in annual property taxes.

If the district’s board of directors votes in favor of annexation, voters in both the existing district and the Scappoose area that is being considered for inclusion in the district will likely have to approve the expansion before it is certified by the Columbia County government.

Pam Benham, an elections official with the county, compared the proposal to the merger of fire districts in the St. Helens and Rainier areas to form Columbia River Fire & Rescue in 2002.

“Both of those districts had to approve it, and then they could join,” Benham said. “So I’m thinking this might need to go the same way.”

The deadline for the district’s board to file a measure for the November election is Sept. 4.

Scholz told the Scappoose City Council last month the name of the district, which only controls the Eisenschmidt Pool facility, would be subject to change if Scappoose were to join it.

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