Estimated costs to replace the Crown Park outdoor Camas pool were $2.2 million, yet the city closed that pool in 2018. In 2019, costs of a “replacement” pool have ballooned to $72 Million for a 78,000 square foot indoor facility with a 25 meter competition pool, a second recreation/leisure pool, fitness equipment, a gym, and rooms for events. Add $6 Million for existing sports field improvements, replacing natural grass with turf, for an exorbitant $78 Million 20-year bond on November’s ballot. These construction costs will add approximately $1.04 per $1000 assessed property value (APV) to annual property taxes, which translates to $500 for a $480,000 Camas home.


Camas families and businesses will be forced to pay annual bond taxes, even if they never use the facility. To actually use the facility, hefty membership or use fees will be charged. Based on rates charged by Vancouver’s Firstenburg Aquatic Center for their single pool center, annual family membership fees could exceed $700 per year. (UPDATE: City projects $800/year) Nearby athletic clubs offer pools and/or workout facilities, and it is unfair for the City of Camas to compete with or push out longtime businesses.


The city already owns and operates The Lacamas Lake Lodge events center across the road from the proposed new Camas Aquatics Center, in addition to The Fallen Lake Park outdoor facility adjacent to the proposed site. The City of Camas Community Center south of downtown also rents space. Local schools also rent gyms, rooms, theaters, fields and stadiums to community groups. Essential city services like roads, water, and infrastructure are priority, not facilities already available in our community. 


Operation costs are not included in this bond and are projected to exceed revenues by $850,000 per year. A new metro parks tax district and additional levies are being considered to pay for these projected losses for this massive center.


Schools, Fire, and EMS also ask for tax hikes, and city, county, port and state raise taxes without asking. Camas property taxes have grown significantly over the last 20 years, and are higher than surrounding areas. Our tax burden is already high, and this bond will significantly increase city taxes.


The proposed lakeside location is a notorious traffic bottleneck and safety concern. Alternate locations in less congested areas have been identified, yet ignored. This unnecessary, elaborate pools center is simply too expensive for many Camas residents and businesses. 

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CONTACT:

PHONE: 360-818-4377

EMAIL: notocamaspoolbond@gmail.com

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Camas Taxpayers Alliance

3533 NW Norwood St.

Camas, WA 98607

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1.   Crown Park replacement facility was estimated at $1.8M to $2.2M total cost.


2.   Lacamas Athletic Club 8-lane indoor/outdoor competition facility cost $2.6M to construct.


3.   Vancouver's gold medal, award winning Firstenburg Center cost taxpayers $17M. Newberg, Oregon's new 25-meter aquatic and fitness center cost $20M. Salem soon begins construction on it's new privately funded YMCA with similar amenities for $26M.


4.   The IU Natatorium in Indianapolis, Indiana is one of America's finest swimming facilities.. It's hosted numerous Olympic trials, Senior and Junior National Championships, and NCAA Championships, and was constructed for $21M in the 1980s. That is $55M in today's dollars, and it seats 4,700 spectators.

 

1. Whether you swim or not, each Camas property owner would pay an estimated $1.04 per $1000 Assessed Property Value (APV) each year for the next 20 years. Camas property values and property taxes have already increased dramatically over the last 20 years.

 

2. How much does that translate to you and your family? For a $ 400K home, your additional tax bill will be approximately $416/year. For an $800K home, your additional tax bill will exceed $830/year. For a $1.5 Million home, your additional tax bill would be approximately $1560/year. For the next 20 years.

 

3. Rents increase when property taxes increase, since property owners pass on the higher costs by charging higher rents. Camas lacks affordable housing today, and this bond will make matters worse for residents who rent an apartment or home.

 

4. Camas businesses will also suffer loss from higher costs of doing business, whether they own or rent Camas property. In WA state, the business tax is charged (unfairly) based on gross income, not net income. Adding to the burden of business owners and operators thru higher property tax or higher rent could cause more local businesses to close or relocate.

5. Camas is full of small businesses that pay taxes and employ neighbors today, and this giant facility would threaten many of them. There are currently 22 fitness based businesses in Camas, 8 of them in downtown Camas alone. 13 more are located on the borders of neighboring Vancouver and Washougal. Did they ever expect their own City would be in direct competition with them, operating at a distinct advantage by using taxpayer money to fund million dollar annual losses?

1. In addition to the Camas bond tax, each person will be required to pay a membership or user fee to actually use the facility or swim in the pool.

 

2. Estimates suggest that these user fees may exceed $800 per year for a Camas family membership. In comparison, Vancouver's Firstenburg Center charges families between $693 and $781 per year for an annual membership, while Chehelam Parks and Rec in Newberg, Oregon charges $852 to $1068 for an annual family pass. Tualatin Hills, which only offers a competition lap pool and no leisure pool, lazy river, waterfalls or slides- charges families $575/ year.

3. User fees charged by other neighboring facilities are based on construction costs that were only ¼ of the proposed $72M Camas facility. In fact, Camas user fees may actually exceed those comparable rates, as City officials are left with few options to combat anticipated operational losses.

 

4. The City of Camas has only recently released financial information which projects annual operating losses of $850,000 per year. These enormous losses are based on sales and membership projections that are extremely aggressive and would require over 2000 memberships be sold in the first year alone. If the City failed to reach those lofty sales goal, the operating losses could exceed $2M per year. This would require taxpayers to cover those losses with additional tax levies, or face closing the facility indefinitely.

1. The proposed annual operation budget of the Camas Aquatic Center is $3.1M. But the projected annual revenue for the facility will fall well short of those expenses. The City estimates they will need to subsidize the center at an additional cost of $850K per year from taxpayers in order to offset losses. What happens if those losses are even greater? Corvallis citizens are on their 3rd levy to pay operational losses for their aquatic center.

2. A Metro Parks District (MPD) tax is being considered to pay for these losses. This would be yet another additional tax forced upon Camas families and businesses, and could exceed $.70 per $1000 property value. This means another $350 per year for a $500K home, and $560 per year for an $800K home.

3. The cost of the land being provided by the City of Camas to house the facility is NOT included in the $78M bond. The $72 million price tag is only for the building and its contents.

4. In the last few months, City officials have spent almost $70,000 of taxpayer money on a campaign to promote the Camas Aquatic Center, including artist renditions, flyers, pamphlets, expensive mailings, open houses, websites, and advertising. 

1. The location chosen for the facility sits at the base of a known landslide zone, which has recently opened up again.

2. The intersection of Lacamas Lake Rd. and Everett Street is a notorious bottleneck, especially during high traffic commute times. It also serves as an artery to the Camas High School, and is often populated with younger, less experienced drivers in the mornings and early afternoons.

3. Several other less congested locations were considered, but those options were ignored in the rush to finalize a $78M bond proposal.

4. The City of Camas received many public comments opposing the proposed location at Lacamas Lake. Some respondents cited safety concerns, many worried about increased congestion in a notoriously congested area, yet all of those comments were ultimately disregarded.