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Urban renewal agency votes to forward the plan to city's planning commission

PMG PHOTO: ANNA DEL SAVIO - Scappoose Mayor Scott Burge, Councilor Megan Greisen, Councilor Will Kessi and other members of City Council met as the urban renewal agency on Monday, Aug. 21.

Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated the percentage of the city within the proposed limits. The proposed urban renewal area is 9.97% of Scappoose's total assessed value, or 21.63% of total acreage. An earlier version also misspelled the last name of the assistant to the city manager. Her name is Alexandra Rains, not Rain.

Scappoose's urban renewal agency forwarded a proposed $36.9 million, 30-year urban renewal plan to the Scappoose Planning Commission earlier this week for consideration.

The agency, which is made up of the same members as the City Council, voted to advance the plan to the next step in the process at a meeting on Aug. 19.

The planning commission is set to review the plan on Sept. 12. If the commission determines the urban renewal plan is compatible with the city's comprehensive plan, the City Council will hold a public hearing on the plan on Oct. 21. Unlike property tax levies, which require voter approval, urban renewal only calls for approval from elected officials.

The council will vote on the plan on Nov. 18. If approved, the plan would go into effect after 30 days unless Scappoose residents effectively petition to refer the issue to voters, according to an overview of the plan prepared by Alexandra Rains, the city manager's assistant and staff lead for the city's urban renewal efforts.

If the City Council ultimately votes to adopt the urban renewal plan, a portion of property tax revenues from the defined urban renewal area will be diverted from taxing districts to fund projects in the city.

The urban renewal plan outlines funding for water and sewer improvements; transportation improvements for bikes, pedestrians and vehicles; and incentives for housing and business development.

Urban renewal uses tax increment financing, meaning that at the start of the plan, assessed property values become the "frozen base" for property tax revenue. As property values increase, the corresponding increase in property tax revenue would be diverted to the urban renewal agency for spending on projects outlined in the urban renewal plan, rather than going to the overlapping taxing districts.

Less than 10% of Scappoose's total assessed value is part of the proposed urban renewal area, which means overlapping taxing districts would still receive increased property tax revenues from the vast majority of properties.

Over the anticipated 30-year duration of the plan, more than $41 million would be diverted from tax districts that overlap with the urban renewal area. Columbia County would lose less than $3,000 in the first year, but in the final few years of the plan, the county would lose more than $300,000 annually. The City of Scappoose, Columbia 911 Communications, the Port of Columbia County, the fire district, and the school districts are among those that would lose expected funding as a result of urban renewal, but the state would contribute funds to offset the loss for school districts.

The proposed urban renewal plan and supplemental documents are available here.

Proposed projects

In addition to urban renewal funds listed below, the projects outlined may also use general city funds, grants and other resources, according to a report accompanying the urban renewal plan. The dollar amounts listed below reflect estimated expenses in the year of expenditure. As the projects are spread throughout the 30-year plan, the expenses listed are higher than the expenses in 2019 dollars. The total expenditures are estimated to reach $36.9 million in year of expenditure dollars, while the projected impact on affected tax districts is $41.3 million.

  • $1.26 million for wastewater system upgrades, which the city is financing with a loan from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality

  • $1.5 million for improvements to the Miller Road Water Treatment Plant and construction of drinking water wells

  • $3.7 million for upgrading and expanding the existing ultraviolet disinfection system, which destroys bacteria and other microorganisms in the city's wastewater using ultraviolet light instead of chlorine

  • $1.01 million for construction of a water main to increase water access for the Scappoose Industrial Airpark

  • $1.85 million for bike route improvements, including bike lanes and signage on portions of E.M. Watts Road, Highway 30 and West Lane Road

  • $2.13 million for completing sidewalks on various streets

  • $873,000 for completing the railroad trail parallel to Crown Zellerbach Road between Highway 30 and West Lane Road

  • $68,000 for studying West Columbia Avenue to explore potentially converting road to two-way traffic

  • $7.84 million for improvements at intersections, including potential changes to West Columbia Avenue after completion of the transportation study

  • $1.14 million for studying parking in downtown Scappoose and making improvements to public parking

  • $6.57 million to widen sidewalks and add a landscape strip to 1st Street between Northwest E.J. Smith Road and Southwest Maple Street

  • $3.5 million to widen sidewalks and add landscape strips along East Columbia Avenue between Highway 30 and Southeast 4th Street

  • $756,000 for grants and loans for storefront improvements

  • $2.18 million for grants and loans for housing and mixed-use development

  • $2.56 million for administration and financing fees


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