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City discussing formation of taxing district for parks
SNOHOMISH - The city is moving forward with forming a new taxing district that would support parks, recreation and open spaces.
Before the regularly scheduled City Council meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 19 from 6 to 7 p.m., the city will be holding a workshop to plan out the formation of a Metropolitan Park District (MPD).
The creation of a parks district would require a public vote, which the city hopes to have a ballot measure ready sometime next year.
“Quite a bit has changed in the last seven years,” City Manager Larry Bauman said earlier this month in regards to revenue for city services. “The city of Snohomish is faced with the same problem as many other agencies in our area and that is finding sustainable funding.”
Bauman told the parks board in June that the creation of a parks district is the only permanent funding source available that could meet the city’s parks needs.
If approved, the MPD would be set up under the same model as the Transportation Benefit District. The MPD, though, would cover urban growth areas and areas near the city slated for future expansion.
The only source of funding for a MPD is property taxes. The transportation district can be funded through property or sales taxes, which the city opted for the latter.
If the city decided to ask for the highest amount allowed by law, which is 75 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value, staff estimated the city would collect $700,000 per year.
No tax rate has been decided yet, Bauman said.
A benefit to forming a MPD would allow the city to have money specifically set aside for parks and recreation projects that would not be in competition with other important services such as police or transportation, Bauman said.
The city has been discussing the formation of a parks district for quite some time and made it an official city goal for 2014 this past July. In August, the parks board voted to recommend the city proceed down this path.
Although the project is still in the exploratory stage, Councilman Paul Kaftanski is looking forward to creating a way to bring predictability to the parks system funding stream.
“If you ask housing developers or real estate agents what would happen if we closed our parks systems, I believe the result would be devastation for our community,” Kaftanski said. “I’d like to see us not only maintain what we have but also enhance our park system that can make it a tremendous asset that can bring more businesses and more people into our community.”
The City Council would like to see if “our citizens would like to see more predictability” as well, he said.

 

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