Park acquisition and development is funded primarily through Park Impact Fees, the Real Estate Excise Tax, grants and donations. Since 1997, the department has received over $7,814,500 in grants and donations for park development.
Park Impact Fees
Park Impact Fees are collected whenever a new residential development is constructed. This money can be used to purchase new park property, and design and construct park development projects. Park Impact Fees are collected and spent within 10 specific Park Improvement Districts. The fees collected in a particular district are also spent within that same district. Some of these districts cross city/county lines.
Real Estate Excise Tax
The Real Estate Excise Tax was adopted with support from the Home Builders Association, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Association of Realtors. These taxes are collected whenever a property is sold. Real Estate Excise Taxes can be spent on designing and constructing new parks, or on improving existing parks. Taxes are collected and spent within three geographic areas: the city of Vancouver, the unincorporated urban area of Clark County, and rural Clark County. Although taxes collected within the city of Vancouver can only be spent there; taxes can be shared between the unincorporated and rural areas of Clark County in order to best address the park development needs.
Grants and Donations
City and county neighborhood associations and citizens can help fund park development or improvement projects by applying for grants, providing private donations, or conducting fundraising efforts. For more information about this process, please call Vancouver Parks and Recreation at 360-487-8311.
Maintenance and Operations Funding
Although funding sources exist for buying and developing land, park maintenance and operations costs are funded through general city or county tax dollars. The need to balance competing needs for these general tax dollars and the tightening of existing city and county budgets place constraints on park maintenance funding, which in turn limits new park development. Vancouver Parks and Recreation cannot construct a new park development project without first securing the necessary maintenance funding.
One example of how to address maintenance funding shortfalls is the property tax-based Greater Clark Parks District. This special district was approved by voters in the unincorporated urban area of the county in 2005, and will provide maintenance funding for 35 new park development projects in this same area.