Troutdale's Parks Advisory Committee has recommended an increase of our Parks System Development Charge (SDC) to $7565. At last week's city council work session, a majority of the city council indicated their intent to charge as much as they could out of the gate, then negotiate down from there with any potential naysayers who might object, say, the Homebuilders Association. Or affordable housing advocates. Or other reasonable folks.
According to city staff, here are some comparison single family dwelling parks SDC rates for other local cities:
Gresham $3185 + index (Rate for non-residential: $35/employee)
Wood Village $0
Currently, Troutdale's parks SDC is $3600. This figure was set in 2005. Only two years later, and we're going to double it? Consider also that in 2002, Troutdale voters rejected a $3.4 million parks bond levy. The proposed new parks SDC would raise approximately $17 million.
I appreciate the hard work and commitment of Troutdale's Parks Advisory Committee. But a $7565 parks SDC is too much. Troutdale's general fund budget can barely pay for the maintenance of our current parks. I fail to see how it would be reasonable to add more park land if we can't adequately fund our current parks maintenance.
Operating funds for our current parks are scarce. We've already cut back on parks maintenance. Why add more financial burden with extra costs to maintain more empty greenspace, not to mention FTE for maintenance of playgrounds, pathways and shrubs, graffiti removal and vandalism repair?
Why would we want to take land off the tax rolls if it's not necessary, anyway? The proposition that we need new parks is not supported by the reality of Troutdale's prime location.
Troutdale has many fine parks and greenspaces within its city limits. But Troutdale is also the gateway to the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. It's literally right next door! In addition, within minutes of all Troutdalians are fine recreation areas such as Lewis and Clark State Recreation Site, Dabney State Recreation Area, Oxbow Park, and Dodge Park. Also within minutes is the Sandy River Delta, at the confluence of the Columbia and Sandy rivers. This site will soon have a Maya Lin-designed bird blind as part of the Confluence Project.
Doubling our parks SDC to $7565 will affect the price of homes in Troutdale. It will add $7565 to the price of every new home built in Troutdale, which will effectively raise the market price of existing Troutdale homes by the same amount. This would negatively affect the affordability of homes in Troutdale.
This proposed new parks SDC rate is unreasonable and is not in the best interest of Troutdale's residents, its future home buyers, its existing parks or the city's precarious general fund. The city council should reject this SDC increase.