Services Departments Government

From: Tim Heider, Clackamas County Public Affairs Manager, 503-742-5911

11-15-17

Clackamas County

Media and Interested Parties

Clackamas County outlines several misleading claims in Happy Valley’s lawsuit against NCPRD

The City of Happy Valley violated its contract with the North Clackamas Parks and Recreation District by failing to maintain some NCPRD parks within the city despite being paid approximately $1 million to do so, according to a counterclaim filed Tuesday by Clackamas County.

The response, filed yesterday, cites numerous examples of legal claims the City is making related to breach of contract that are based on items it knows are not accurate or are misleading. This includes statements that the System Development Charges (SDCs) that are central to the lawsuit were City SDCs, rather than NCPRD’s.

The county’s full counterclaim can be read at http://www.clackamas.us/pressreleases/documents/pr20171115b.pdf

The SDC claim was one of several major misrepresentations in the lawsuit the City filed in October to withdraw from the parks district.

Happy Valley joined NCPRD in June 2006 and the City and NCPRD entered into an Annexation and Service Agreement that would outline their respective areas of responsibility and shared goals by NCPRD adopting the City’s capital improvement plan.

The contract also required the city to collect its own SDCs under its ordinance and its capital improvement plan, which it did not do, according to the counterclaim. Instead, the city allowed for collection of these fees by NCPRD. 

“There was clear agreement by at least action, that the optimal manner of handling construction of major capital assets is to have one entity, NCPRD, to levy all park –related SDCs and apply them to district-led projects that would be owned and operated and maintained by NCPRD….” The City by action, consented to this approach and did not object until after it had adopted its withdrawal ordinance,” the county asserted.

The county’s answer asserts that city leaders wanted NCPRD to spend $1 million for artificial turf fields at Happy Valley Park and “insisted on an illegal transfer of SDC funds to the city. NCPRD refused and now stands accused of breaching the agreement due to (NCPRD’s) refusal to violate state law.”

The county’s answer also refutes the city’s assertion that residents have not received sufficient value from NCPRD. “Beginning in 2014 the City Manager of Happy Valley has asserted that the city’s residents have not been receiving sufficient value from NCPRD.  This perception has not been matched by any customer satisfaction surveys or feedback received from the population being served. Part of this dissatisfaction was conveyed in the argument that Hood View Park was not a community park that met the Agreement’s intentions despite clear evidence to the contrary,” according to the counterclaim.

“At all times from annexation until proposed withdrawal, the City has been actively represented and involved in the master planning, capital improvement project list, fee structure, project prioritization and general direction of NCPRD,” according to the counterclaim.

NCPRD owns 9 parks of more than 78 acres within Happy Valley. This does not include Hood View Park’s 35-plus acres which is under contract to be sold to the North Clackamas School District.

“After withdrawal is complete NCPRD will no longer contain the geographical area contained within the City of Happy Valley within district borders. As a result NCPRD cannot assess property within Happy Valley. Without the ability to assess in the area that is primarily benefitting from the parks, it would be inequitable for NCPRD to pay for the maintenance of such parks. Also the residents of the city will no longer be customers of NCPRD. NCPRD should not own the parks after the withdrawal is complete,” according to the counterclaim.

It also outlined the division of assets that would be consistent with state law guidelines. 

“At the time of its vote to withdraw from NCPRD, Happy Valley had three of nine members on the district’s advisory board. The city’s assessed value represents 18.58% of the district’s assessed value, yet had 33% of the district’s advisory voice. Because of this, “NCPRD believes the City has had great influence and opportunity to articulate issues within the Complaint. Those issues were not brought forward by the City representative or other city residents to the full advisory committee for action” according to the counterclaim.

Following the method outlined in state statute, given Happy Valley constitutes 18.58% of the district, total district assets are approximately $96,275,539.  Happy Valley is entitled to approximately $17,887,995 or 18.58% of the district’s assets, as well as 18.58% of the district’s debt for Hood View Park, which amounts to $1,579,300. 

The value of the parks within the city, those parks adjacent to the city, and those located a short distance from the City and primarily serving the residents of Happy Valley, is approximately $44,371,481.

Under those statutory guidelines, after NCPRD deeds its Happy Valley area parks to the City, the City would owe NCPRD $9,362,786 once Hood View Park is sold to the North Clackamas School District or $28,062,786, if the transaction is not completed at that time. The amount is the market value of the parks, plus accrued debt. 

NCPRD is also seeking approximately $1 million payment for maintenance of certain parks within city limits after the city failed to pay for maintenance.

“NCPRD had been fully committed to pursuing an equitable and fair division of assets,” stated Scott Archer, NCPRD Director. “Unfortunately, the City is seeking a share of NCPRD’s assets that far exceeds what is outlined in state statute and agreeing to their proposal would unnecessarily overburden the district. Our priority continues to be our residents and we will defend and protect the best interests of the district.” 

“NCPRD continues to focus on delivery of parks and recreation services,” Archer added. “After Happy Valley’s withdrawal is complete we will continue to provide the same quality of service, access to facilities and programs, and affordable in-district rates to Milwaukie and unincorporated north Clackamas County residents.”

For more information, media can contact Tim Heider at theider@clackamas.us or (503) 742-5911

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