After getting significant pushback from community members and developers on raising system development charges (SDCs) from $2,017 to $13,459 for a single family home, the Chehalem Park and Recreation District Board of Directors settled on an increase of $6,866 when it reconvened June 28.
In contrast to the public hearing on the matter that was held in conjunction with CPRD's regular board meeting June 21, the holdover session last week went fast. In all it took less than 15 minutes, but it did feature a few twists and turns.
That included board president Pete Siderius recusing himself from voting on the issue because he had missed the June 21 meeting due to back surgery and had been unable to hear public testimony.
"I wish I was able to be here, but being able to move was a little more important to me," Siderius quipped. "I heard it was very interesting. What I read was very interesting and I really am sorry I missed it."
Board member Don Loving immediately proposed a three-part motion that put forth the adopted level of service (LOS) calculation of $7,450 for a single family home, but also included provisions to raise the SDC annually based on the regional Engineering News Record and for the board to make a full review of SDC calculations at least every five years.
"The biggest reason we are here is because we did fail over the years to not keep up," Loving said of the annual increase provision. "This would eliminate that issue."
Board members Mike Ragsdale and Bart Rierson both said they were uncomfortable with adopting the LOS figure and ultimately their votes nullified those of Loving and Mike McBride.
Ragsdale immediately put forth a proposal to adopt the current LOS figure, which includes charges of $6,046 for multiple family homes and $4,719 for mobile homes, as well as the same added provisions from Loving's proposal.
"I think that's very equitable and very appropriate," Ragsdale said. "I'm reluctant to go to the higher number until we've done a little more disciplined planning and structuring of exactly what we want our expenditures to be."
During discussion of the motion, McBride said that he would not support the lower figure of $6,866, but Loving said that he would, although reluctantly. A short time later the board voted 3-1 to approve it.
"The numbers are not that far apart, but compared to where it is now, which we all agree is too low, it's a big jump," Rierson said. "I agree that it's a question of economics, also. If we raise the system development charges high enough to discourage development, we're actually going to get less revenue for doing projects."
Approving a fee that was nearly half the amount first proposed was a win for many of the critics who voiced concerns about the process, like Austin Industries president Brett Baker, who had testified that the proposed fee would threaten the Austin family's ability to sell a large parcel of land for development, the proceeds of which will be donated to the community through their various philanthropic organizations.
While the fee that was approved will be a much lower hurdle for the Austins to clear as far as attracting a developer to purchase the land, he and others felt some concerns remain.
"We recognize the SDC needs to be increased," Baker said. "We're just used to having a much more concrete business plan before we make an investment. We were concerned this is a huge investment for the community and it wasn't that clear it should be."