I appreciate Sunset Empire Park and Recreation’s never-ending desire to expand its services and facilities. I also believe they are naïve to the excessive tax burden they place on the district. Seaside, as the 68th largest city in Oregon, has the seventh highest tax rate imposed on residents (more than $1.75 million) for a park district in the state.
Our park district is funded at the same level as Eugene’s River Road Park and Recreation District ($1.76 million) and Redmond’s Redmond Area Park and Recreation District ($1.65 million), those districts belonging to the third and 18th largest cities in the state. Comparably sized districts such as the Greater St. Helens Park and Recreation District or Molalla Aquatic operate on 25% to 31% of the Sunset Empire Park and Recreation district's imposed tax.
The Broadway Middle School acquisition will cost the taxpayers even more than the proposed and failed 2018 $20 million bond measure. Skyler Archibald wrote to The Astorian in October 2018 that a $20 million bond would be less expensive than buying and refurbishing the school:
“The district explored the possibility of acquiring the soon-to-be-vacated Broadway Middle School property, but the acquisition and remodel costs of that project far exceeded the $20 million project contained in Measure 4-196,” he wrote. “Therefore, the district is moving forward with this route, the more economical of the options.”
If the failed $20 million bond was the economical alternative, what is the expected cost for payments on a $2.25 million property with renovations, utilities, insurance and payroll for additional employees? Will existing programs continue to be cut, to pay for this endeavor, as they were this year?
The taxpayers who have already purchased and maintained this property as a school for the last 71 years, should not be forced to buy it again.
I urge SEPRD to reconsider its decision to purchase the school property and cancel escrow. They should be grateful of the funding that has been bestowed on the district instead of increasing the district’s debt and subsequent taxpayer burden.