Woodland to decide on pool bond measure, higher taxes

Ballot also includes four city council seats, levy lid lift

By Adam Littman, Columbian Staff Writer

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Residents in Woodland have a packed ballot to fill out this election day.

Besides four city council seats up for grabs, there are also three measures that could raise taxes in the city: a levy lid lift, a sales tax increase and a general obligation bond.

Levy lid lift

The levy lid lift would allow the city to increase the regular property levy in an amount greater than the 1 percent levy lid.

City councilors voted to put the levy lid lift to public vote to bring in extra revenue to fund law enforcement. If the measure passes, the money will pay for two additional officers, a sergeant and equipment.

The proposition authorizes a 2018 regular property tax rate increase of about 78 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value, for an estimated levy rate of $2.84 per $1,000 assessed value.

The levy lid lift requires a simple majority of 50 percent plus one vote to pass.

Sales tax

If approved, the sales tax would increase by 0.2 percent in the city. The increase is coming to voters thanks to the city’s transportation benefit district, which is made up of the city council.

State law allows a city or county government to set up a transportation benefit district, which can raise money to fund local transportation projects by either charging an extra vehicle registration fee or sales tax. The money can’t be diverted, and must go to transportation improvements. Districts that charge an extra vehicle registration fee don’t need to put that to a public vote. Battle Ground and Vancouver both went that route with transportation benefit districts.

To add to the sales tax, the district must get approval from the voters. Woodland tried that in 2016, but 51.56 percent of voters came out against the measure.

If passed, the money would fund items on the city’s six-year Transportation Improvement Plan, and the increased sales tax would last for 10 years. This also requires a simple majority of 50 percent plus one to pass.

Bond

A group of Woodland residents have worked for years to bring a pool to the city, and they are inching closer to making that dream a reality. The bond vote will play a big part in that. If it passes, it will allow the Woodland Swimming Pool and Recreation District to issue $7,990,000 of general obligation bonds with a maximum term of 20 years.

That money will make up 49 percent of the cost for the facility, with the rest coming from donations, grants and tax credits.

The district estimates that the bond, if it passes, will cost approximately 38 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value.

The bond wouldn’t pay for just a pool, as the district teamed up with the YMCA of Columbia-Willamette to come up with a plan for the facility. They secured a location at the former Lakeside Motel property, and the hope is to demolish to motel in 2018, with construction scheduled to begin in 2019.

The 40,000 square foot facility is expected to have a pool, fitness center, indoor walking/running track, exercise studios, multipurpose classrooms, child care, and locker rooms.

Since it’s a bond, it requires a supermajority to pass, meaning it requires 60 percent approval and a 40 percent turnout of voters voting in the last general election.