Parks and Recreation Special District Analysis

Discussion regarding the formation of a special district to provide parks and recreation services in Eugene has generated some community interest. In accordance with that interest, and as part of their charge to identify sustainable revenue sources, the City Council Subcommittee for Parks and Recreation Security and Maintenance Funding took a closer look at special districts.

Due to the complex mechanics of the Oregon tax system, the potential impacts of a special district are not easy to predict. There are, however, certain impacts on the community that can be anticipated.

The table below highlights the differences between a multi-purpose government with Parks and Recreation departments, as we currently have in the City of Eugene, and a single-purpose special district, as well as the impact changing to a special district would have on the community.

Multi-purpose Government
Single-purpose Special District
Impact to Community
Single set of elected officials and administrators for multiple services is less expensive and offers more efficient coordination between services.
ORS requires separate elected board for special district.
Overall cost of providing services is increased due to duplicate administration required for two separate government bodies (i.e. Human Resources, Fleet, Technical Services, Risk Services, Payroll and Finance).

Current efficiencies of shared equipment and staff with other City services would also be reduced (i.e. Public Works Maintenance, Facilities, EPD).
Elected officials and admin of multi-purpose government have many needs and services competing for their time and attention.
A single-purpose oversight body can be focused on parks and recreation service delivery.
Community members may be more satisfied with the attention to issues specific to parks and recreation.
Cannot enact a permanent increase in property tax revenue.
Allows for creation of a new permanent property tax rate, or application of an existing permanent rate through annexation.A new permanent tax rate would result in a tax increase for most taxpayers.
Multi-purpose government allows for coordinated taxation and maximum flexibility to fund all services.

Potential competition between departments for resources from a single budget.
A special district taxing authority is single-purposed and reduces flexibility to coordinate taxation in support of all services.

Does not compete with other departments for resources.
Adding a tax rate to Eugene tax bills for a new district could result in revenue loss to important community services, such as the library, public safety, 4-H, which rely on local option levies to fund portions of their services. It could also reduce City and County General Fund revenues, which could affect other important services at both governments.
More diverse revenue sources can be tapped to pay for added services, but more potential for swings due to economic cycles.
More stable revenue base through economic swings, but less opportunity to adopt new sources to pay for added services.
Future opportunity to expand service level growth could be limited or there may be demand from community members for the City to pick up more services if the district cannot keep up with rising costs and service level growth.