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Camas to Continue Moving Forward

In this video, Mayor Barry is joined by Council Member Steve Hogan & Camas CFO Cathy Huber Nickerson to discuss the financial status and implications of the choices of whether or not to move ahead with current capital projects.

Summary and minutes:

  • 00:45- Cathy synopsis of where we stand right now and what is being forecasted in the City Finance Dept.
    • We are in good shape, we have a 4-month reserve of funds
    • Chance that some property taxes/revenues may be delayed
    • In response: hiring freeze/equipment purchase delays (unless COVID-19 related)
  • 03:37- Capital Projects: #1 Everett & Lake Roundabout Project - Does it still make sense to move forward?
  • 05:17- City Council Meetings in a Time of COVID?
    • Only if deemed necessary for progress or COVID related.
    • Camas City Attorney sets forth that it is necessary for Council to sign off on a contract for a North Shore greenspace purchase by the end of next week.
  • 06:24- North Shore Greenspace Purchase
    • How much money will we be spending on these properties?
  • 07:30- Explanation of what ‘bond money’ is:
    • Real estate excise taxes (tax collected when you sell your home)
    • Park impact fees + No new taxes to the existing homeowners of Camas
  • 09:35- This is money we now have available for these projects and can’t be used for anything else? Cathy explains how the funds are restricted.
  • 10:30- North Shore Legacy Lands Purchase: Steve Hogan explains the backstory of the North Shore Greenspace Legacy Lands purchase.
    • This is a Legacy purchase that has been worked on for years with multiple North Shore property owners who have lived on and owned these Camas lands for generations. Each property owner felt that a cohesive land sale to the City of Camas was important to preserving the look and feel of the dense greenspace that defines the North Shore. By working with the City of Camas for years, and eventually lowering their asking prices to something the City could reach, a deal was finally struck that would keep this area of Camas visually beautiful and ecologically sound for generations to come.
    • In order to move ahead at the agreed-upon terms, this is an item that needs to be signed off by Council by the end of next week. Because we have been able to secure not only this deal but the grants to go along with it, Steve believes we should move ahead with the purchase now.
  • 13:52- Mayor: Sounds good, but - there are many unknowns right now. What happens if the economy continues a downward decline, how will we be able to fund this?
  • 14:28- Steve explains that because of all that Camas has to offer (great community, schools, nature access), people will always want to move to and buy homes here, and even if new homes are not being built, there will still be people moving to Camas and the City will continue to collect taxes on properties being bought/sold.
  • 15:18- Cathy reiterates that the taxes collected can only be used for these particular (Parks) purposes.
  • 15:48- Steve reminds us that 40% of the bill for the Everett/Lake roundabout is grant money (and bravo to the folks who have helped us obtain that money, Jim Hodges, Steve Wall, Curleigh Carruthers) that will not have to be paid back and now is the perfect time to do this project with no school in session and very little traffic on the road.
  • 16:50- Have we gotten grants for the North Shore Project?
  • 17:01- Cathy talks about Jerry Acheson’s work to get grant money ($2.5m), along with our work with Columbia Land Trust, Recreation and Open Space grants.
  • 17:56- Steve also mentions thank you to the Byuma Family, Mills Family, Rose Family, and Camas Washougal Wildlife League who are making this continuity of woods and water possible.
  • 18:40- Cathy talks about seeking out help from the State & Federal Government for local businesses and citizens during the crisis, and also looking into what can Camas do from a policy standpoint to help.
  • 19:30- Steve reassures that Camas has been through this kind of thing before, and it should be comforting to know that we are in a good position financially. Barry acknowledges that Cathy is in City Hall today, gathering paperwork for an audit, but is alone and adhering to safety practices.
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