What is a Park District?
A Park District is a proven way to deliver stable, sustainable funding for our Seattle parks, ballfields and community centers. If approved at the ballot this August, Seattle voters would establish a separate taxing district, with its own dedicated funding, that would be spent on supporting the maintenance, upkeep and operations of our more than 6,000 acres of City parklands spread over more than 450 separate parks, our 26 community centers, 185 athletic fields and more than 120 playgrounds. The District would be administered by the members of the City Council acting as Parks District Commissioners, with strict oversight and accountability measures included to ensure that the funds raised are spent wisely and with substantial citizen input. Seventeen other cities in Washington State, including Tacoma, as well as major cities around the country, have already created successful and thriving Parks Districts. It is time for Seattle to do the same.
Why do we need a Parks District?
Right now our parks must compete with other city services like police, fire, and human services, so when budgets are tight parks lose out. Seattle’s park system has suffered significant budget cuts recently, and will remain a lower priority in years to come. We all treasure Seattle’s incredible parks system, but the truth is that for years now we’ve neglected this extraordinary legacy. Daily maintenance has been reduced at virtually every park and community center. We now face a $267 million parks maintenance backlog – and it’s growing. It’s time to start investing in our parks again. As the current parks levy expires, it’s time to establish stable, dedicated funding for our parks so we protect and maintain these green spaces for future generations. And a Parks District will trigger greater citizen input and oversight of Seattle Parks and Recreation than ever before.
Will creating a parks district mean a loss of accountability?
No, the district includes multiple accountability measures that will ensure the funds raised will be sent appropriately and wisely to address our growing parks needs First, the District will be required to adhere to all City ordinances and policies, as well as the City Charter and Park Administrative Code. All major City initiatives, like the Race and Social Justice Initiative, will apply to the District as well.
Moreover, community concerns and priorities, and citizen oversight, will be built into the decision-making process for the use of Parks District funds. In fact, establishment of a Parks District will guarantee higher levels of citizen oversight than ever before. The District will be required to form an 11-member Community Oversight Committee that will make recommendations to the mayor, the City Council, the Parks District, and the Parks Department Superintendent about the allocation of district funds. The Oversight Committee will also, on an annual basis, review spending on parks and identify any needed adjustments in services or spending. And it will hold public hearings and develop recommendations for spending priorities as part of each 6-year update to the district’s spending plan.
What will I get out of this?
Funding raised through the Parks District will address critical park and community center operations and programs all across Seattle, as well as major maintenance projects alike leaky roofs, ageing boilers, and critical electrical upgrades. Funding will restore staffing, hours, and programs at community centers for kids and seniors; provide cleaner restrooms and trash pickup; acquire new parks and open space; and protect habitat to meet demands of a growing and increasingly diverse city. In addition, the funds raised through the parks district will provide funding for major maintenance at the Woodland Park Zoo and the Seattle Aquarium.
How much will a Parks District cost me?
A Seattle Parks District is a smart and efficient way to provide stable, predictable funding for our parks. The District will replace an expiring parks levy, so even as we move forward on addressing the current parks maintenance backlog the additional cost for the owner of a typical $400,000 home will only amount to about $4 a month.
Please support stable, dedicated funding for our parks. Vote YES on Proposition 1!