Camas pools bond is too expensive
An Aug. 29 letter to the editor from citizens against the $78 million Camas Pool bond stated, “Schools and fire/EMS also ask for tax hikes and the city, county, port and state can raise taxes without asking.” A Post-Record editor added a note: “These government bodies are limited to an annual, 1-percent tax increase.” According to the county assessor: “The increase allowed for tax district budget increases from year to year is a 1-percent increase plus any new construction. If they would like to increase more than the 1 percent plus new construction they are required to go to a vote of the citizens in their taxing district.”
The assessor’s site also notes: “Voter-approved special levies and bonds can have a significant influence on property taxes. Since they are voter-approved, they are not subject to the same limits as regular property tax levies, rates and budgets.”
The State School Levy Part 2 currently does not have the 1-percent increase limitation on it. The legislature exempted themselves from the limit for a few years. In 2019, the local school levy limit is $1.50 per $1,000 assessed property value (APV), and for 2020 the levy limit goes up to $2.50 per $1,000 APV. The Post-Record recently reported that the school board is considering boosting the local enrichment levy rate to the new limit for 2020 and 2021.
The city estimates that the proposed pools bond will add about $1.04 per $1,000 APV annually to property taxes for 20 years. A $480,000 home would be charged about $500 in new bond taxes annually, even if homeowners never use the pools center. Based on Vancouver, user fees for an annual family center membership could be about $700. Other fees for various uses will also apply. However, user fees are not expected to cover the costs of operating the center, so a new parks tax may be added to help pay for projected losses. The proposed $78 million aquatics center bond is far too expensive for many Camas families and businesses.