Oregon Department of Revenue invalidates Happy Valley boundary change; City remains part of NCPRD

From Tim Heider, Clackamas County Public Affairs Manager, 503-742-5911

Media and Interested parties

The Oregon Department of Revenue (DOR) ruled this past Tuesday that the City of Happy Valley did not follow appropriate state law in withdrawing from the North Clackamas Parks and Recreation District (NCPRD).

The ruling invalidates the previous boundary change, meaning that Happy Valley remains, officially, part of NCPRD.

The statute that governs boundary changes for special service districts, ORS Chapter 198, establishes a process for withdrawal which would, in this case, require approval of Clackamas County Commissioners and potentially a vote of residents of the entire parks district.

Since the DOR has statutory oversight of all Oregon counties in assessment and taxation matters and to properly process the boundary change in county records, several months ago the Clackamas County Assessor’s office asked the DOR to review whether the appropriate statute had been followed for the NCPRD withdrawal.

That procedural review was entirely within the scope and authority of the Assessor’s office, which operates independently by statute.

Initially, in March, the DOR approved the boundary change. Read the letter notifying the county of that action.

Then on Tuesday, Clackamas County and NCPRD learned of the DOR reversal of that decision. Its letter can be reviewed online.

The DOR decision has statewide implications for all service districts throughout the State of Oregon. The DOR decision ensures the rights of residents and has taken action to ensure the law is upheld. 

Based on the decision and letter dated June 19, 2018, NCPRD immediately began taking action to ensure compliance with the DOR decision and ORS 198.

“We are as surprised as the residents of Happy Valley at this turn of events, but we’re going to comply with state law,” stated NCPRD Director Scott Archer. “A lot of work from our staff went into this assumed withdrawal. We had already sent numerous notifications to the residents of Happy Valley announcing this change, and we had been gearing up to keep things operating as smoothly as possible.”

One such action was charging Happy Valley residents with out-of-district fees for district programs beginning July 1, 2018.

“For those Happy Valley residents who paid the higher fee, we will be providing refunds for the difference in the coming weeks,” stated Archer. “Also, Happy Valley residents will continue receiving all of the in-district program rates and registration priorities available to all NCPRD residents.”

Another change was adjusting the budget for the coming fiscal year. As a result of the DOR finding, the NCPRD Budget Committee reconvened to amend its approved fiscal year 2018/19 budget on Tuesday, to reflect the additional property tax revenue and expenditures related to providing services to District residents who live in the City of Happy Valley.

NCPRD was formed as a taxpayer-funded service district in 1990 and Happy Valley was annexed into the district in 2006.

NCPRD serves more than 122,000 total residents.  Of these, over 80,000 reside in unincorporated northern Clackamas County including Oak Grove/Jennings Lodge, unincorporated Milwaukie, and east of I-205.

Additionally, NCPRD serves over 40,000 combined residents in the cities of Happy Valley and Milwaukie. The district owns or operates parks totaling more than 78 acres within Happy Valley, including Mt. Talbert Nature Park.

In addition, NCPRD operates the 35-acre Hood View Park via an agreement with North Clackamas School District which now owns the site.

This DOR decision means that NCPRD will continue to provide its services and recreational opportunities to the residents of Happy Valley at in-district rates.   

About the City of Happy Valley Measure

The City of Happy Valley referred a ballot measure to the May 15, 2018 election asking city voters to establish a five-year local option levy for parks and recreation services with the same assessed tax rate as NCPRD. This measure passed under the assumption that Happy Valley had properly withdrawn from the district.

The City of Happy Valley will now need to decide whether to assess the Local Option Levy.

More information about the change in status can be found at www.ncprd.com.

For more information media may contact Tim Heider, Clackamas County Public Affairs Manager, at 503-742-5911 or theider@clackamas.us.