HR City Council waives library fees

The City of Hood River has waived more than $20,000 in fees to aid construction of the new community library.

Last week the City Council voted unanimously not to charge the county the standard traffic System Development Charges to the project. That move followed a discussion of pros and cons that centered on equity and fairness to taxpayers.

Councilor Chuck Haynie broached the idea that city residents should not be required to pick up the tab for a renovation that would benefit the entire county. However, Councilor Carrie Nelson pointed out that a public library was open equally to all citizens, whether or not they were property owners paying for the project. In addition, Mayor Paul Cummings said that city residents were more likely to be frequent patrons of the library since it was in their “own back yard.”

At issue were the systems charges (SDC) that are calculated on an estimate of increased traffic volumes generated by new construction and then banked for future road improvements.

The Council unanimously agreed that levying SDC fees after the building process had already started would create a financial hardship since the costs for the new library had already been budgeted. However, they were asked to address the matter after Steve Everroad, finance director, received new information showing that the city was allowed by law to charge SDCs for the public institution.

Everroad had previously been told these fees could not be applied to police, fire, school, or library development. Once he learned that data was not correct, Everroad brought the options before the Council which, he said, had the option to charge $1,841 for each of the 11,087 square feet in the new structure — a total cost of $20,418.

Dean Guess, director of the county’s Parks and Buildings Department, confirmed at the Nov. 25 city meeting that it would be difficult to come up with the money for that bill. He said the first $3 million for the library upgrade had been approved by voters in the fall of 2002 and had long since been “value engineered” as part of the construction schedule. In addition, the Hood River County Library Foundation is on a time crunch to raise the $1 million in additional funding that will allow build out of more upscale plans.

The city officials finally agreed to make a one-time exception for the new library and not charge the standard fee.

“The county really appreciates the city’s support for this project,” Guess said in a follow-up interview.

Guess said county staffers are working now to recoup the resettlement costs of moving the Roe-Parker House from its State Street lot to make way for the library renovation.

He said the two-bedroom dwelling, now sited on Sherman Avenue, will go on the auction block after the final “curb appeal” touches have been incorporated within the next two weeks. These include the addition of a new southern deck off the kitchen, an unfinished daylight basement and landscaping.

According to Guess, the residence, which sits on two lots of 54 square feet by 75 square feet respectively, will soon be advertised for a mandatory one-month period and then sold to the highest bidder.

The proceeds will first be used for reimbursement of county expenditures associated with relocation of the historic house and any extra money will be dedicated toward the library project.

The Roe-Parker house was relocated from property adjacent to the library to pave the way for the major expansion of the 84-year-old structure. The residence was purchased in 1999 for $215,000 from funds raised by the Hood River County Library Foundation and a $90,000 loan from the county.

Local historians believe the house was built by, or for, the George Roe family sometime between 1896-1901.

It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987, one of six existing Queen Anne style cottages that were commonly constructed in downtown Hood River from 1900-05.

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