County-city deal on parks may come to end

Commissioner Madore believes it will result in cost savings

By Erik Hidle, Columbian staff writer

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Republican Commissioners David Madore and Tom Mielke are leaning toward ending Clark County's agreement with Vancouver for operating the city-county park system.

Madore made it clear Wednesday he believes the county can save money in ending the contract and operating its own parks department. Mielke also said he believes the county can find cost savings, but first wants to see staff draft a proposal on the matter detailing the dollars and cents in such a plan.

Madore agreed, saying he too would like to see what staff comes back with before making a final decision.

"This is your call," Madore told Interim County Administrator Mark McCauley. "Come back with your recommendation (next week)."

Under the current agreement set to expire at the end of this year, the county has sent $880,000 each year to the city-run department. While presented as a joint department, the county is really buying services such as administration and planning from the city to help operate the county parks and recreation programs.

Commissioner Steve Stuart, a Democrat, stood opposed to the new plan, but said he looked forward to seeing a staff report on the matter to see if the numbers penciled out.

But the agreement is already assumed dead by the city of Vancouver.

At the Sept. 9 city council meeting, Vancouver City Manager Eric Holmes said attempts to save the agreement had failed. Because of that, the city is undertaking efforts to "transition into a new operational model" according to a city memo, and will simply contract with the county on a case-by-case basis moving forward.

County staff will present the financial details of a county-run parks department at next week's board time.

Erik Hidle: 360-735-4547; http://twitter.com/col_clarkgov; erik.hidle@columbian.com