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Parks may get more funding

SALEM — A bill introduced in the Senate earlier this month could potentially send an additional $3.2 million each biennium in maintenance funding to county parks by 2015.

Eola Heights Park in West Salem is one of 10 county-operated parks that could benefit if Senate Bill 1514 passes and sends more money to counties for park maintenance.

Photo by Jolene Guzman

Eola Heights Park in West Salem is one of 10 county-operated parks that could benefit if Senate Bill 1514 passes and sends more money to counties for park maintenance.

February 18, 2014

SALEM — A bill introduced in the Senate earlier this month could potentially send an additional $3.2 million each biennium in maintenance funding to county parks by 2015.

But Polk County, which operates 10 county parks, wouldn’t see much of the funding if the bill is passed.

Senate Bill 1514 would change the distribution formula of recreational vehicle licensing fees, which help pay to maintain both state and county parks across Oregon.

Currently, the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department receives 65 percent of the fees, while counties receive 35 percent. The bill would gradually change that formula to 55 percent going to OPRD and 45 percent going to counties by 2015. In 2014, the split would be 60 percent to OPRD and 40 percent to counties.

Supporters of the bill — a collaborative effort of OPRD, the Association of Oregon Counties (AOC) and the Oregon Parks Association (OPA) — say the money is needed to cover the cost of deferred maintenance in county parks.

“Counties have evolved operations to become more innovative and resourceful in managing their park systems to ensure sustainable operations of our local parks, but we still need help to eliminate the accumulated deferred maintenance issues,” said Steve Lambert, an OPA board member.

If the bill were to pass, Polk County in 2015 would receive an additional $14,000 to the approximately $45,000 it already receives, said Greg Hansen, Polk County administrator.

“It will help with parks maintenance, but not substantial enough for park development,” he said.

SB 1514 was introduced Feb. 3 and referred to the Joint Ways and Means Committee on Feb. 5.

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