NCRD Pool Bond Measure: Timing, Transparency, Too Much – Not Now

By Janice Laviolette
A crucial vote is coming up for the residents of the North County Recreation District. The building of a new pool in Nehalem has been discussed for 20 plus years. The old pool has maintenance issues, is smaller than many would like and is not ADA compliant. However, it is PAID FOR.
Everyone in the district would LOVE to have a new pool but the cost for this endeavor has steadily risen from $3 million to 4,5,6, and now $9 million dollars. We are a very diverse, yet small taxing district from north of Manzanita all the way south to Brighton and the rural farm area out Hwy. 53. Affordable housing, family wage employment and even food stability is an issue for many families in our area. A modest new pool facility would be embraced by most constituents, but this new grand design is an expense that may at some point in the future cause great financial distress to our neighbors on fixed incomes who risk being taxed out of their own homes.

The bond measure application was turned in to the county clerk on August 12th. Not one word was mentioned to the public until a Facebook post on September 30th. Why the seven week delay? Perhaps hoping there would be no time for discussion? Yes, I know that all of this took place at public meetings but I, like many others in the area, work in a tourist driven business and do not have time in the summer to attend a lot of meetings.
Upon questioning the verbiage of the bond measure I was met with total silence. Contact with the Oregon Health Authority and the Tillamook Health Department contradicts the statement on the filed document that “the state of Oregon has stated that they are allowing the continued operation of the pool because we are actively seeking a working replacement.” If the bond measure fails, the old pool is still operational. Initially, no one would say where the $3 million dollar loan was coming from or how it would be paid back. Seven days of repeated questioning finally elicited a published response. Not a very inspiring way to garner faith from the very people you are asking to finance this venture.
I know there is a faction of people who want the pool – no matter the cost. I am speaking up on behalf of those who don’t have the “creative financing” to simply pull money out of thin air. The five year operating levy will be the fall back position for NCRD if costs rise faster than money comes in. Words uttered at a past NCRD meeting stating “we don’t have to have a balanced budget, we are a taxing authority” should be given consideration by all who make it a point to live within their own means.