February 18 2020
In August, a jury of residents from throughout Clackamas County awarded the return of $18,078,238 to the City of Happy Valley, based on a breach of contract for the County's failure, acting as the North Clackamas Parks and Recreation District (NCPRD), to build parks for which city residents paid. More recently, the Judge in the case granted the City an additional $3,222,879 in interest. If Clackamas County appeals the decision and the jury verdict is upheld, it will cost Clackamas County taxpayers an additional $2,000,000 per year in interest based on state statute.
It is important to note that the jury award only represents a return of development fees paid by Happy Valley residents. None of the money was from Milwaukie or the unincorporated areas of NCPRD. Based on the County's most recent Comprehensive Annual Financial Report and Budget documents, the development fees are still being held by NCPRD and available to be returned, without impacting District operations.
The same development fees cannot be used to pay interest if the County appeals, which could result in negative impacts to the rest of the District. For this reason, the City is willing to work with the County to settle all unresolved aspects of this dispute and mitigate negative impacts to residents.
The most significant issue remaining between the City and Clackamas County is the City's withdrawal from NCPRD. The City is hopeful that NCPRD will come to the table and explore options, including legislation, that will help us all move forward in a way that supports our shared goals to provide services that our respective residents desire.
As background, this case resulted from a breach of contract by NCPRD. When Happy Valley residents voted to join NCPRD in 2006, the City and the District signed a contract that required development fees paid by City homeowners to be transferred to NCPRD for exclusive use on park projects listed in the contract. Those projects were never delivered, and the jury awarded the return of all those funds to Happy Valley.
The City is committed to using the funds awarded by the jury exclusively for the park projects that were promised to the voters when the City joined NCPRD. Those projects include a community park, community center, all-weather turf fields, and completion of the Mt. Scott Trail. In addition to providing great amenities to residents of Happy Valley, these parks will be open to everyone, even those who live outside the city limits.
"While I was disappointed we were not able to resolve this dispute before going to trial, the City Council and I are looking forward to delivering the projects Happy Valley residents have been promised for years. With the trial behind us, I'm hopeful the City and County can get back to working together. We owe that to our shared residents." Mayor Tom Ellis