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City Council likes tax for parks idea
SNOHOMISH - Voters may be asked to support a new taxing district that would dedicate a pot of money just for parks and recreation projects.
At a Dec. 17 workshop discussing the formation of a Metropolitan Park District last week, the City Council gave its full support for the idea.
The city’s tentative plan is to take the Metropolitan Park District, or MPD, to voters in 2015.
“This is one part of a strategy for better Snohomish parks,” parks board member Lya Badgley said. “We’re lucky to have as many parks as we do, but the recent recession showed how at the mercy of the economy our parks are.”
The maintenance and purchase of new park land comes out of the general fund and must compete with other city services such as police services.
“There’s no specific funding just for parks,” Badgley said.
The council members were in favor of taking the next steps in forming a parks taxing district at the workshop. An advisory committee will be formed to help with a long-range parks plan.
Members of the committee will include Councilmen Dean Randall and Paul Kaftanski; city project manager Ann Stanton and parks manager Mike Johnson; parks board members Lya Badgley and John First; and three citizens yet to be named.
Next steps will include reaching out to the community to see what they see as priorities for the city’s parks and recreation department, Badgley said.
“This is important for the town, and I would encourage people to be a part of the process,” Badgley said.
The city will use the Transportation Benefit District, which pays for street projects through a sales tax, as a model for the parks district. The parks district, though, would collect money through a property tax.
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 estimates that would bring in about $700,000 a year.
The items discussed at the workshop to take center stage once funding starts rolling in (assuming voters vote to tax themselves) include building a dog park and funding for a new boat launch.
The city acknowledges the current boat launch at Cady Park at the east end of the Riverfront Trail isn’t adequate to support the fishing community.
Kaftanski is the parks and recreation director for the city of Everett, and said that he truly understands the value of a city’s parks.
“I’d like to see us not only maintain what we have but also enhance our park system,” Kaftanski said. “That could make it a tremendous asset to the city, which can bring more businesses and more people into our community.”

 

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