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A Dallas area park and recreation district could possibly take over operations at the Dallas Aquatic Center.

Itemizer-Observer

DALLAS — The city of Dallas is recruiting members for a committee tasked with recommending a process to put a park and recreation district before voters in 2022 or 2023.

“Once approved, city staff will begin the work to recruit candidates to serve on the committee for council consideration and approval,” wrote City Manager Brian Latta.

He said the committee will evaluate potential boundaries of the district, the assessed value of that area, and at what rate should property owners should be taxed. It will also explore what services and responsibilities the district will take on.

Latta said among consideration for the district is taking over operations of the Dallas Aquatic Center, operations of existing ball fields, building a new sports complex, and operations and maintenance of existing parks.

The committee will evaluate the potential of taking our long-term or short-term debt to develop new facilities.

But most of the work of the committee will be in informing citizens of the proposal and what it means to them as far as cost and services.

“That’s the lion’s share of the responsibility of this committee, to engage with the public so that they know, and it’s very crystal clear and transparent,” Latta said.

The committee will hold public forums and use polling to determine interest among voters in supporting the district, he said.

The Dallas City Council approved moving forward with the concept in early August and approved the process of forming the committee on Aug. 16. Recruitment for members of the committee is happening now. Applications can be found on the city’s website: www.ci.dallas.or.us.

Latta said the council should approve committee members that are interested in the subject and have the time to commit to it fully. Members should represent a broad spectrum of the population with the boundaries of the proposed district, including race, age, property owners and those who don’t own property, income, and familial status. He said the membership should be limited to nine people.

“Appointment on the committee will be at the discretion of the council,” Latta said. “I would recommend doing a review of application materials and potential interviews during a council workshop. This way the council can hear from the people in a workshop setting through an interview.”

Latta recommended the committee meet two times per month.

“I’m recommending that because there is so much work to do,” he said. “We want to make sure there is good momentum going all the time with this.”

Once the committee begins meeting, it’s work will take at least a year to complete its work.

“The Special Districts Association of Oregon recommended this formation committee process take between 12 and 18 months, so you are going to look at a ballot measure no earlier than November of 2022 or May of 2023,” Latta said. “Where we are starting now, we are on target to meet either of those deadlines, just depending on how fast we want to move the project along.”

Latta added that the committee will use consultants to help determine the best course to take.

“I do anticipate, and we did budget in the city budget a consultant to help especially with the formation of a new sports complex, and what that would look like and what that would entail,” he said. “We will certainly bring in professionals as needed to answer those questions. We might engage a little bit with the Special District Association of Oregon. They have lots of expertise in going those this process. I think it would be appropriate to bring them on board.”

The council approved the committee’s scope of work, meeting schedule and recruitment process unanimously.

“A lot of the work is still ahead of us with this, which is why it does take 12 to 18 month to make sure that you really dot every I and cross every T,” Latta said. “You cannot overcommunicate with the public on a taxing district if you want to be successful.”

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