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Sales tax hike would fund sports fields

Bainbridge Island would get $1.5 million for sports facilities and other “active” recreation projects, if voters approve a countywide sales tax hike on the Nov. 5 ballot.

Proposition 1 would raise the Kitsap County tax on retail sales by one-tenth of 1 percent – 10 cents on a $100 purchase. The current tax is 8.5 percent.

Park advocates are lining up behind the measure, and hope to rally youth sports families to the cause. Dave Lewis, Bainbridge Island Park and Recreation District director, said the proposal has “no downside that I can see, for consumers or property taxpayers.”

“It would be an infusion of $1.5 million for projects we need that would be painless, basically,” Lewis said.

The proposition was put on the ballot by the Kitsap Public Facilities District, and would generate about $2.5 million in its first year.

If it passes, the county would issue $23.5 million in bonds to finance sports projects around Kitsap. Sales tax revenues in future years would be used to pay off that debt, and maintain and operate facilities.

Approximately $15.4 million would be divided among projects in each of the county’s school districts, with $8 million going to facilities of “regional” significance – larger ball-field complexes and the like.

Bainbridge Island’s share is estimated at $1.5 million, with several projects under consideration.

Tops on the list, Lewis said, is an all-weather playing surface on the Woodward sports field. That would give the island a year-round site for youth soccer, football and lacrosse.

“In February, you can’t get onto a lot of fields because they’re just too darn wet,” said Ken DeWitt, Bainbridge Park Board chair.

Other possibilities include development of a new ball-field complex, at a location yet to be determined; renovation of the old transmitter building at Battle Point Park as a multi-use activity facility; or construction of a community center and gymnasium.

The projects emerged as top priorities after a series of meetings between representatives of Kitsap cities, park districts and school districts.

Final project selections would be made by the PFD board, which has vowed to give “great weight” to the recommendations of local citizen advisory panels.

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