Rec district mulls bond options

Potential bond financing scenarios presented to the Sunset Empire Park and Recreation District board of directors.

Plans for a renovation of the Seaside aquatic facility on Broadway include expanded classrooms for early education programs, a community gym, fitness classrooms, an indoor walking track, enhanced cardio fitness area and increased storage space for pool equipment. The project comes with a cost, estimated at between $15 million to $18 million. The Sunset Empire Park and Recreation District board of directors presented four scenarios at both price estimates for a November bond to pay for it.

The bond will be voted on by residents of the independent taxing district, who include most residents of the Seaside School District, excluding Cannon Beach and Gearhart.

“I believe in it because I can see the impact of this on the community, of the effect it’s going to have on kids, of this expansion,” Alan Evans, chairman of the district board, said Wednesday. “There’s not a whole lot of other options to make that happen.”

In April, directors voted to pursue a base plan over an enhanced proposal that would have included acquiring and renovating the Broadway Middle School building, which will be vacated as the Seaside School District moves to build their new campus. That model would have cost more than $28 million without adding the cost of the building’s land purchase.

The base plan model is estimated between $16 million and $18 million. The board of directors reviewed two bond scenarios, with four repayment schedules for each.

Bonds would be sold to investors and repaid off by property taxpayers over time. Directors considered 15, 20, 25 and 25 scenarios and their impact. According to details provided by executive director Skyler Archibald, the base plan model chosen by board members is estimated to cost around $16 million to $18 million. The bond will would cost somewhere between 45 cents and 70 cents per $1,000 of assessed home value.

Directors leaned to support of a 15- or 20-year payment schedule based on the $16 million projected cost. While costs for taxpayers would be higher on an annual basis, the bond would be paid faster and eliminated additional interest costs, according to bond consultants Piper Jaffray. For a payoff period of 15 years, the impact of a homeowner with a $200,000 home would be about $140; the cost for a $400,000 property about double that.

Interest on a 30-year issue $18 million bond would exceed $21 million, more than the cost of the bond. Total debt service would be more than $39 million.

In a 15-year debt service schedule on a $16 million bond, taxpayers would elect to pay about $6.6 million in interest and about $23 million in total debt service.

“In the end, we have to explain why we feel this is important, why we’ve chosen the scenario we’ve chosen,” director Jeremy Mills said. “We have to get ahead of this.”

Directors continued to have concerns about the bond’s potential to succeed, as Seaside School District taxpayers are repaying a $99.7 million bond approved by voters in 2015 for a new campus. A proposed $23.8 million bond for county jail facilities is on the fall ballot.

“There isn’t another gym that’s available for community use throughout the district,” Archibald said. “We’re trying to put something unique and special in.”

Directors said they plan to select one of the bond scenarios at their July meeting. A filing must be made with the county by Aug. 17 to ensure the bond measure will be placed on the ballot for Election Day Nov. 6.

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