Clackamas County Commissioners decline Happy Valley requests for NCPRD boundary change submission, tax delay

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

Media and Interested parties

Clackamas County Commissioners today declined a request from the City of Happy Valley to file a notice of boundary change with the state.

Commissioners also declined a related request from the city to ask the County Assessor to delay certification of North Clackamas Parks and Recreation District (NCPRD) property tax assessment on Happy Valley residents for park services. Certification is needed before the assessment can be collected.

The city, in a letter sent  June 21, had asked the county to file a boundary change notice following a decision June 19 by the state Department of Revenue (DOR) rescinding a boundary change that would have allowed the city to withdraw from the North Clackamas Parks and Recreation District.

The DOR ruled that Happy Valley did not follow the appropriate state law in withdrawing from the district.

Commissioners also approved two legal actions related to the issue. One, is a motion to intervene in support of the DOR in a tax court lawsuit filed last month by Happy Valley. And in a second filing in Clackamas County Circuit Court on behalf of the County, the County Assessor and NCPRD seeking a legal ruling on the process that must be used in withdrawing from a service district.

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 district.

Commissioners said they would consider a boundary change submission only if it is filed under ORS 198, which would in this case, require approval of County Commissioners and potentially a vote of district residents. Happy Valley relied on another statute, ORS 222, which does not call for a public vote to support its request to withdraw.

The city relied on ORS 198 when it joined NCPRD in 2006.

“We are following the law,” said Clackamas County Chair Jim Bernard. “If Happy Valley wants to withdraw from NCPRD they’ll have to do so under the proper statute. The city’s request of us to immediately file a boundary change has no legal basis and we will not do it.”

DOR followed its boundary change ruling with a letter directing NCPRD to continue collecting the 54-cents per $1,000 property tax assessment. The assessment goes toward district operations, funding of recreational opportunities and maintenance of the parks.

NCPRD is already taking action to ensure compliance with the DOR ruling. One such action is refunding out-of-district fees residents began paying in January following its decision to withdraw.

The district also amended its budget to reflect the additional property tax revenue and expenditures related to providing services to Happy Valley residents.

In a letter explaining the actions, Bernard wrote “it is unfortunate that the City chooses to publicly blame Clackamas County for this situation.  The County did not direct the City to rely upon ORS 222.  Nor did the County Commissioners, Administration or Counsel ask the DOR to reconsider its original approval of the withdrawal.”

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