Measure will raise up to $68 Million for critical park improvements,
Tax Rates will not go up
(Portland, OR) –
Unofficial preliminary results show that more than 72% of Portland voters approved Measure 26-159, the Parks Replacement Bond on the November 4th ballot. This bond measure replaces a similar bond from 1994 that expires next year, and provides funding for urgent major maintenance repairs across the Portland Parks & Recreation system without increasing property tax rates. The YES vote allows Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) to make repairs and improvements needed citywide, and to prevent more playground and facility closures. Bond projects include (but are not limited to) fixing or improving:
-7 to 15 play areas currently closed, at risk of closure, or deficient, including Couch Creston, Kenton, Lents, Lynchview, the North Park Blocks, and Ventura Parks
-Bridge and trail repairs, including in Forest Park and along Springwater Corridor
-Community pools, including Matt Dishman, Peninsula, Grant
-Sellwood Park buildings, Rieke Field, Multnomah Arts Center, St. Johns Community Center
-Restrooms, roofs, other deficient structures and equipment
-Pioneer Courthouse Square failing structures, leaks, cracks
-Removing barriers to accessibility for people experiencing disabilities at numerous locations
-Park maintenance buildings to address worker safety, efficiency
“I am very grateful to the voters of Portland for approving the bond measure. It will help meet crucial needs across our parks system, while remaining sensitive to Portlanders’ ability to pay,” says City Parks Commissioner Amanda Fritz. “The funds from this bond won’t completely close the gap our parks and facilities face, but will make a major difference. I will continue looking at ways to address the needs of our parks system.”
“This is a great day for parks, and for Portland,” says Nick Hardigg, Executive Director of the non-profit Portland Parks Foundation. “We had a strong campaign, with financial and volunteer support from Portlanders of all walks of life and every community.”
The bond will be subject to an oversight committee, annual reports, and audits. The measure replaces an expiring bond originally passed by voters in 1994 for park improvements, and will not raise park-related property tax rates. These rates are currently estimated at $0.0877 per $1000 of assessed value. In 2013, a household with a median assessed property value of $152,890 paid approximately $13 for the bond levy.
“Portlanders have historically supported our parks system through bonds, and this is a time when our needs are most critical,” says Portland Parks & Recreation Director Mike Abbaté. “And this voter-approved replacement bond is a strong start to addressing the major maintenance needs across the city. I look forward to working with Commissioner Fritz on other funding options going forward, and to ensuring that our parks are available to all Portlanders, both now and in the future.”
Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) currently receives only $1.5 million annually in General Fund tax dollars for major maintenance across all of the Bureau’s 209 city parks and 7800 acres of natural area. The Bureau has identified more than $365 million in major maintenance needs over the next 10 years across the city. The passage of the Parks Replacement Bond ensures that approximately $68 million in funding will pay for 31 of the most urgent capital improvement projects out of an identified list of 797. Additional projects may be added in coming years based on available funds, staff recommendations and community input.
PP&R will work with Parks Commissioner Amanda Fritz, the City’s Office of Management & Finance and City Council to put forward the first bond issuance by mid-year 2015. The Council will appoint a five-person oversight commitment responsible for annual reports. The Bureau expects money would be available to begin projects by July, 2015. The current bond project list is available at www.ParksReplacementBond.org.
“I want to add a sincere ‘thank you’ to Portlanders for your vote of confidence in Portland Parks & Recreation,” adds Director Abbaté. “Our work strives for better places and parks for all visitors. We look forward to rolling up our sleeves and delivering these important projects.”