BACKGROUND: Seattle voters approved the Seattle Park District with the understanding that the initial 6-year property tax assessment would not be higher than 33 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, and that this assessment rate would generate approximately $47.9 million dollars a year for the first 6 years of the Parks District’s operation. Problem: With Seattle’s unprecedented growth and housing density, the need for Park facilities is great. Replacement and major renovation of aging park facilities are not funded within the existing Seattle Parks District budget. Now two community centers that have been identified by the Parks Department as needing to be replaced will not be replaced, and the budget for the renovation for six other community centers has been substantially reduced. The Board of Commissioners of the Seattle Park District has stated that the wording in the inter-local agreement, which includes the initial 6-year spending plan, prevents any changes to the budget until the next 6-year cycle starting in 2021.This self imposed limitation on funding has resulted in the Park District Commissioners not being able to meet their fiduciary obligation to improve community centers, pools and other park facilities.
OPPORTUNITY: As a result of all the new construction, the taxable base of the City has increased by $22.3 billion dollars from 2016 to 2017. The current assessment rate is 27.5 cents per $1,000 of assessed value—well below the promised high level.
SOLUTION: If the current 27.5 cent rate was maintained for the next 3 years, an additional $26 million could be generated by 2020, allowing growth to pay part of this cost. These additional funds should be used to replace and renovate aging Park facilities without resorting to privatization of existing publicly owned Parks’ community centers and pools.SIGN THE PETITION TO URGE OUR BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS OF THE SEATTLE PARK DISTRICT TO DO THE RIGHT THING.
We, the undersigned, hereby petition the Board of Commissioners of the Seattle Park District to:
1.Maintain the current Park District assessment rate of 27.5 cents per $1,000 of assessed value for the remaining three years (2018-2020) of the initial six-year Seattle Park District Budget Spending Plan; and
2.Establish a dedicated budget line in the Park District budget for the replacement of aging park facilities from the surplus created by maintaining the current 27.5 cents per $1, 000 assessment rate for the Park District appropriation, with initial emphasis on addressing current identified community center needs. Assuming that the Budget Office’s projections of increases to the City’s taxable base are correct, these surpluses are estimated to be $5.2 million in 2018, $8.9 million in 2019, and $11.8 million in 2020; and
3.Guarantee not to use “privatization” as a method of financing and operating Parks’ existing publicly owned community centers and pools, with the establishment of a dedicated line item in the Park District budget for major renovation/replacement of aging park facilities.