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  • Writer's pictureLeslie Lewallen

Ask Leslie- No Bond, No Additional Tax Load

Today’s Question:

In your Contract With Camas, you say we can build a Crown Park Replacement Pool with no bond and no additional tax load to Camas taxpayers. If it won’t raise taxes, where will the money come from?

Leslie’s Response:

There are many ways to fund this construction/operation that eliminates the need for additional taxation. Let’s remember that prior to the City digging the Crown Park pool up in order to sell us a $78 million dollar replacement, we paid to repair and operate that facility. It’s already baked in our budget. That’s around $400K/year that we paid for the old Crown Park Pool for more than 50 years. Sadly, your taxes didn’t go down when they closed the pool like they should have, but that’s another story. The Selah Pool has an annual operating budget of around $400K/year, which is paid for by daily fees, swim lessons revenue, community donations /sponsorship, and swim team rental.

When the construction price is $7 million, or $5 million, or $3 million (depending on the plan THE CITIZENS approve), no bond is necessary. The City Council has the authority to literally write a check for it. Just like they do roundabouts, and bank buildings, and Legacy Lands, and consultants. Our current biennial municipal budget is around $200 million dollars. Your taxes are already based on that expenditure number. I am confident that if necessary, we could find the entire amount over a six to ten year period to pay for a 3 to 7 million dollar pool. Again, no tax increase required as the budget is baked into the current tax load.

But the number one way to replace the Crown Park Pool is through a public/private partnership. The Selah Aquatic Club raised millions of dollars from outside sources to complete construction and fund operations of their facility. They sold brick pavers, lane and locker room sponsorships, and continue to solicit donors and sponsors as a regular part of their business. We have 2 high school swim teams in Camas and Washougal that need a permanent home to train and have swim meets. The Camas School District and Washougal School District are obvious funding partners and are currently spending thousands of dollars each month to rent pool space for their respective teams. I envision a collaboration between the two school districts AND the two municipalities to come together to solve a long term problem facing both communities.

Of course, there is an easier way that eliminates the need for any of that. The same way that Salem, OR funded the construction and operation of their new aquatic center without a single municipal tax dollar being spent. And that is to procure a group of benevolent donors, much like the Lions Club was 50 years ago when they donated the Crown Park Pool to Camas, to fund the entire replacement cost. I have made contact with several interested parties, and believe that this may be our most direct and least resistant way to achieve our goals.

Solutions to problems come from thinking outside the box. Our friends in Selah and Salem set great examples as to how these facilities can come to fruition without bonds and/or additional taxes. Let’s follow their leads and discover in our own community how together, we can make Camas the very BEST it can be!

Thanks for the question. If you have a question, just send me a note at

- Leslie


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