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  August 5, 2014 Primary And Special Election


City of Seattle

Simple majority (RCW 35.61.040)

City of Seattle
Proposition Number 1
Seattle Park District


The City of Seattle Proposition 1 concerns formation of the Seattle Park District, a metropolitan park district.

This proposition would create a metropolitan park district under Chapter 35.61 RCW, called the Seattle Park District, to fund, maintain, operate and improve parks, community centers, pools, and other recreation facilities and programs. Its boundaries would be the City of Seattle’s boundaries and its board would comprise the Seattle City Councilmembers. The District could levy property taxes, currently limited to 75¢ per $1,000 of valuation; and could contract with the City to perform certain functions.



For the formation of a metropolitan park district to be governed by the members of the Seattle City Council serving in an ex officio capacity as the Board of Commissioners of the Seattle Park District.
Against the formation of a metropolitan park district.

EXPLANATORY STATEMENT

Seattle Proposition 1, if approved, creates the Seattle Park District, a metropolitan park district with the same boundaries as the City of Seattle. The Seattle Park District would be a distinct municipal corporation with all the powers granted by state law in RCW chapter 35.61, available at: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=35.61. The governing body of the District would be the councilmembers on the Seattle City Council. Among the District’s powers is the ability to levy an annual property tax, up to $0.75 per thousand dollars of assessed value (or $330 per year on a $440,000 home), to raise revenues to provide ongoing funding to maintain, operate and improve parks, community centers, pools, and other recreation facilities and programs.  As a separate taxing authority from the City of Seattle, the District could levy additional property tax above the current “lid” restrictions that state law imposes on Seattle. The District may only be dissolved or its actions reversed by its governing body or a change in state law, but not by local initiative.

When the City placed this measure on the ballot, the Mayor and the Council also approved an ordinance that authorized the Mayor to sign an interlocal agreement with the District should its creation be approved by the voters.  Under the proposed interlocal agreement, the City would maintain its current general fund support of the Seattle Park system and the District would supplement City funding by imposing a property tax of approximately $47.9 million per year for the first six years of the District’s operation.  That would be $0.33 per thousand dollars of assessed value or $145 per year for an average home with a value of $440,000.  Under the proposed interlocal agreement, the City would retain ownership of all parks property and the District would not hire its own staff. The interlocal agreement, if adopted, could be amended or terminated in the future by the City and/or the District.

The companion ordinance, proposed interlocal agreement and spending plan is available at: http://go.usa.gov/8YQA

Statement For

Because We Love Our Parks, Vote Yes on Proposition 1!

Seattle has one of the great parks systems in America, but for years we’ve neglected this extraordinary legacy. Daily maintenance has been reduced at virtually every park and community center. We now face a $267 million maintenance backlog – and it’s growing.

It’s time to invest in our parks again, so they are open and accessible to all. As the current parks levy expires, it’s time to establish a Seattle Park District that provides stable, dedicated funding for our parks, ballfields and community centers and guarantees accessability for all.

Creating the Parks System that Seattleites Deserve

Proposition 1 will address a wide variety of parks system needs including: major maintenance like replacing leaky roofs, boiler replacements, and critical electrical upgrades; ongoing maintenance like cleaning restrooms, trash pickup, and mowing; restoring staffing, hours, and programs at community centers for kids and seniors; acquiring new parks and open space to meet increased demand; funding for major maintenance at Woodland Park Zoo and the Seattle Aquarium; and funding to protect habitat and open space.

All this critical work will only cost the owner of a $400,000 home about $4 a month more than the expiring parks levy.

Dedicated Park Funding Will Serve Us All

Right now our parks must compete with other city services like police, fire, and human services, so when budgets are tight parks lose out. We can do better.

Seattle Proposition 1 will provide the resources we need to ensure that our parks serve every neighborhood and community across Seattle. Our parks system is one of our greatest democratic institutions, bringing together people from all walks of life and all races and ethnicities to share equally in the beauty of nature and the benefits of recreation. Let’s ensure this treasured legacy is enhanced for future generations to enjoy.

Enthusiastic Support from Organizations You Trust

Based on a carefully considered proposal developed by a citizens committee, Proposition 1 received unanimous support from Mayor Murray and the City Council and is endorsed by dozens of respected organizations that care about parks, like Sierra Club, Friends of Athletic Fields, Seattle Human Services Coalition, King County Conservation Voters, Seattle Youth Soccer Association, Transportation Choices Coalition, Seattle Parks Foundation, 34th, 37th and 43rd District Democrats, Forterra and many others.

Please support stable, dedicated funding for our parks. Please vote YES on Seattle Parks District Proposition 1!

Rebuttal of Statement Against

Opponents use highly misleading scare tactics. Proposition 1 was written to provide critically important parks funding, was studied extensively and approved overwhelmingly by a citizens committee of parks advocates, and was passed unanimously by the City Council and mayor.

It requires strict transparency and accountability, including a citizen oversight committee and annual performance audits. It increases oversight, not reduces it:

  • It does not create any new agency or bureaucracy. Funds raised are dedicated to priority parks needs, not building stadiums.
  • All property remains under Seattle Parks and Recreation, governed by City Charter and subject to Initiative 42, restricting the sale of public property. No parks will be sold. Actually, this measure includes funding to create new parks across Seattle.
  • Unlike past levies, Prop 1 maintains the parks we have so they are clean, safe and accessible to all. 

Prop 1 is accountable to citizens. Please vote YES on Proposition 1.

Statements submitted by: Ken Bounds, Barbara Wright, Fartun Farah www.seattleparksforall.com

Statement Against

Proposition 1 is not a Parks Levy.   

Proposition 1 gives our parks to a new, permanent taxing district.

Seattle has some of the most beautiful and widely used parks in the nation. Our citizens have raised money for parks, volunteered for parks’ programs and fought to maintain them.  We want to ensure our tax dollars care for our parks and maintain affordable programs for future generations.  Vote NO on Proposition 1.

Proposition 1 would create an entirely new, independent agency that will take over our parks.  This agency would exist forever – we would not be able to change it.  The agency, under state law RCW 35.61, would be a Metropolitan Park District [MPD].   It would not have new elected leadership. The City Council has chosen to put themselves in control of the district. The MPD would not be accountable to the people of Seattle.

The MPD could raise your property taxes up to 75 cents per $1,000 of valuation without a public vote. State law allows MPD’s to sell, commercialize and privatize park assets.  The MPD could fund new sports arenas, mega projects, buy, sell or condemn land and engage in any business activity “it shall judge desirable or beneficial to the public.”  All without your vote.

Seattle residents have a history of collaboration with leadership that identifies priorities and places levies on the ballot.  We trust that system. We have supported those levies. Levies hold our Council accountable to us and fund our parks and programs. We support keeping our Parks in the City’s General Fund. But we lose accountability and control of our parks unless we vote NO on Proposition 1.

We will be voting on more tax proposals this fall. We are losing the battle to keep Seattle affordable.  We are piling devastating financial burdens on young families and our seniors. We urge you to vote NO on Proposition 1.

Our Parks Forever advocates submitting detailed periodic levies to the voters for their approval. Our parks budget should not be mingled with entities that are privately administered like the Zoo and the Aquarium. Mega-projects like a waterfront park should be funded separately. Let’s take care of park maintenance and cherished programs via levies people support.

Vote No on Proposition 1.

Rebuttal Of Statement For

Proposition 1 is NOT love for our parks. It is a clever deception.

In fact, it would create City Council controlled Metropolitan Parks District which changes forever how Seattle parks are managed – for the worse!

While current park maintenance may be an issue it doesn’t justify abandoning the legacy levy system that empowers voters to prioritize revenue for park programs and maintenance. 

A YES vote on Proposition 1 permanently shifts control of our precious park resources to the Council with absolutely no accountability to voters.

Any current or future Council could privatize our parks, build stadiums or cage more Zoo elephants….even raise taxes for private development – all without a public vote.

We regret King County Conservation Voters and Forterra did not bother to talk with these park advocates about our concerns.  They may be right most times – but they’re wrong here.

Really love our parks! Vote No on Proposition 1. 

Statements submitted by: Don Harper, Carol Fisher, John Barber www.ourparksforever.com

Complete Text of Resolution

Download the full text of the resolution