Planning, design, permitting and construction of the new parks included in the parks district is funded by Park Impact Fees, the Real Estate Excise Tax, grants and donations. Maintenance and operations is funded by the property taxes collected by Greater Clark Parks District program.
Greater Clark Parks District Property Tax
In February 2005, voters living in the unincorporated urban area of Clark County passed a property tax levy that created the Greater Clark Parks District. By state law, the funds collected by the district can be used to finance long term park maintenance and operations, as well as provide capital funding for development.
The Greater Clark Parks District's property tax rate is set at a maximum of 27 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. The actual rate amount changes every year based on several factors, like levy distribution and assessed property values. More information about tax levy rates is available on the Clark County Assessor's Web page: www.co.clark.wa.us/assessor/reports.html
All the parks, trails and ball fields included in the Greater Clark Parks District program must be maintained for the long term, so the Greater Clark Parks District levy has no expiration date.
Park Impact Fees
These fees are collected whenever a new residential development is constructed. Clark County first established these fees to purchase new park property in 1991, and then re-established them to pay for park development and acquisition starting in 1996. By law the revenue collected by park impact fees can only spent on park acquisition or development. It cannot be used for park maintenance or on other programs like roads or public safety.
Park Impact Fees are collected and spent within ten specific Park Improvement Districts located within the city of Vancouver and the unincorporated urban area of Clark County. The fees collected in a particular district are also spent within that same district. Some of these districts cross city/county lines. The state requires that all Park Impact Fees be spent within six years, or be refunded to developers.
The Real Estate Excise Tax
This tax was first established by the city of Vancouver and Clark County in 1996, and was re-established in 2002. Both versions of the tax were created with support from the Home Builders Association, the Chamber of Commerce and the Association of Realtors. These taxes are collected whenever a home is sold in Clark County.
Up until January 2012, the county's Real Estate Excise Tax revenue was divided between parks and economic development. The portion going to parks was spent on designing and constructing new urban and regional parks, and on improving existing parks. The Board of Clark County Commissioners determines how revenue from real estate excise taxes collected in the urban and rural areas outside local city limits will be allocated. In December 2011, the Board decided to use Real Estate Excise Taxes to pay for debt payments on several county buildings, instead of on capital improvements like parks. More information.
Grants and Donations
Vancouver-Clark Parks and Recreation regularly applies for state and federal grants to help supplement its budget.
City and county neighborhood associations and citizens can also help fund park development or improvement projects by applying for grants, providing private donations or conducting fundraising efforts. The Parks Foundation of Clark County can assist individuals and groups with setting up tax-exempt accounts to accept monetary donations at no charge.