November 12, 2017
Crook County Parks and Recreation District tends to confuse people by our name. Many folks who live in Crook County just assume that because they pay County taxes, some of those funds goes to Parks and Rec. Actually, that is not the case at all. Crook County Parks and Recreation District was birthed out of the City of Prineville back in the mid 80’s, and a “Special District” was created so that the City parks would have dedicated funding for operations. At the time, Crook County Fire and Rescue was a small Special District that encompassed the majority of the population and thus it seemed appropriate to just use the Fire District boundaries for the Parks and Recreation District boundaries as well. Even though the Fire District has grown tremendously since those early days, the Parks and Rec. District remains the same size. If you want to know specifically where the boundaries are, you can find them on our website at: www.ccprd.org or the Crook County GIS site is even better http://gis.co.crook.or.us/. Basically, the Parks and Rec. District is larger than the City limits but only a fraction of the entire county. This begins to matter when folks start talking about wanting services provided to them, but they don’t live within the Parks and Rec. District boundaries. It’s only those living within the CCPRD boundaries that are paying for services. They pay for all the labor, utilities, equipment and materials to operate all 13 parks and all the recreation programs that are offered. Of the $745,000 per year that it takes to keep up with operations, $30,000 is used to subsidize the old outdoor pool for three months. Just in case you think that is a big number, it’s actually quite small compared to many other pools, especially indoor pools that are open year around. The Madras Aquatic Center is a beautiful pool facility, but their operating budget is almost the same as our entire Parks and Rec. budget. The reason I bring this up is so that you, the tax payer, knows who is paying for what. There is never a lack of ideas as to what we should build next or what Parks and Rec. should be doing that we’re not. Reality is, however, that Parks and Rec. can only provide what the people within our boundaries want and agree to pay for. The rest of the County won’t even see an initiative on their ballot if CCPRD puts one on. The other thing that I want to explain is the rate that you pay if you are in the CCPRD boundaries. The tax rate is $0.75 per $1,000 of assessed value of your home or business. Your assessed value is likely very different than the market value of your property. The market value is closer to what you could expect to sell your home for, while the assessed value is what the tax assessor uses to calculate what you owe in property taxes. The reason that the assessed value and the market value are so different is because the assessed value cannot increase more than 3% per year by law, where as the market value is closer to what the value of your home actually is. For example: the median assessed value of homes in Crook County currently is $157,367 where as the market value is closer to $228,700. Another thing you should understand is that Crook County Parks and Recreation District can’t change our tax rate; it is set in stone. The only way CCPRD can increase tax revenue is either to expand our boundaries, wait until the assessed value on homes and businesses go up, or more homes and businesses are added into the existing District boundaries and start paying property taxes. The only real way to change the tax rate is to dissolve the current district and create a new one. I know that Prineville doesn’t have any desire to be Bend, but just for comparison sake, Bend Parks and Recreation District tax rate is $1.46 per thousand of assessed value. Bend has nice parks, but they also receive almost twice as much per property to take care of them. As our community continues to grow and more people and businesses move into the Prineville area, perhaps we should consider whether or not the District boundaries are the correct size. Another thing to think about is all of the new industry being built up on hill. Currently Apple is in our boundaries (and will eventually pay taxes once the enterprise zone tax exemptions are fulfilled), but Facebook is not. It is likely any new businesses going in up there won’t be in the CCPRD District unless our boundaries change. Boundary changes are called annexation. To annex new territory into the District, it must be done either by the property owner voluntarily requesting to be annexed, or through an election process. Both the folks that live within the proposed area and the folks living within the existing District must vote yes for the annexation to happen. The beauty of our government is that you get to decide where to live and where you put your money at the end of the day. If you live in the CCPRD boundaries, then you own the parks, you pay for the services, and you make the big decisions. We currently have a vacant seat on the CCPRD Board of Directors. The Board is accepting letters of interest from those living within the District and will soon appoint someone to serve out the remainder of the term. If you are interested, send a letter to 296 S. Main St., Prineville, OR 97754 and I will pass it on.
Soon the Citizens for a New Prineville Pool and the CCPRD Pool Advisory Committee will be sponsoring a survey of all of Crook County, not just the CCPRD District, to solicit your thoughts concerning building a new indoor pool in Prineville. The reason they are surveying the whole County is simply this: if an indoor pool is going to fly, likely everyone needs to be on board. If you happen to get that inconvenient phone call, please take a few minutes and let them know your thoughts. It’s difficult sometimes to know what the majority of folks want and what they are willing to pay for. The future is in your hands. We will only do what the people ask for, so please let your voice be heard.
Crook County Parks and Recreation District