Please vote ‘yes’ for the parks district levy

  • Friday, July 16, 2021 1:30am
  • Opinion

The Bainbridge Island Metropolitan Parks & Recreation District levy is on the Aug. 3 ballot. We encourage you to vote “yes.”

A yes vote assures the continued maintenance of existing facilities, parks, trails, open space, playgrounds, programming, and special events, and seeds a sustainable future.

Everyone benefits from 40-plus miles of trails; 25 parks; 76 acres of recreational shoreline; 104 acres of playground and athletic facilities; 1,500 acres of park property; and 3,700-plus programs offered each year.

It is hard to imagine a day goes by that does not involve parks in some way.

A portion of the property tax BI homeowners pay each year goes to the park district to fund maintenance and operations. Way back in 2008, Bainbridge residents voted to approve a 75 cent per $1,000 of assessed property value for parks.

In all that time, parks has not asked for an increase. The tax rate has actually declined to 57 cents per $1,000 valuation. Yet park land and programming have increased 60% in the past 13 years. Proposition 1 seeks to reinstate the 75 cent per $1,000 rate. Called a “levy lid lift,” it means residents would pay $12 per month on a $850,000 home.

Parks will continue maintenance of existing land and facilities, fund necessary deferred maintenance projects and expand human resources to keep all operations running well.

By the year 2024, parks would need to make significant budget cuts because if the measure doesn’t pass because current revenue is not keeping up with inflation and growth. A vote against the measure would mean reduced levels of park maintenance and services. It would mean many of the deferred maintenance projects would remain unfinished, and new projects would not be possible unless there are offsetting budget cuts.

It is important to note that parks has the same number of full-time staff (42) in 2021 as it did in 2008; there has been no increase in 13 years.

Written into the Proposition is an exemption for qualifying low-income senior citizens, veterans and people with disabilities. The specifics will be determined by the state, but parks recognizes and honors those for whom voting “yes” may cause financial hardship.

Park commissioners voted to ask the community for a levy lid lift prior to the opportunity to purchase the Bainbridge Athletic Club. BAC is a stand-alone, revenue-generating entity, not dependent upon levy funds. Parks intends to continue the existing operational model and increase programming and classes to cover facility costs. The park commissioners feel confident in staff’s ability to positively manage the BAC.

The Ray pool, built in 1971, needs substantial improvements to prevent an imminent failure. Passage of the levy would provide resources to address those aging problems.

A “yes” vote is a vote for the future. Voting yes will insure today and tomorrow’s generations continue to enjoy the parks and recreation facilities that are the centerpiece of island life and the community we share. As a friend put it, “why not support parks?”. Through the work of many, and the generosity of those who came before us, we enjoy a robust park district. Voting “yes” for this levy lid lift will continue in that spirit of meeting our current needs and fostering flourishing parks and recreation for future generations.

Thank you for your support! For additional information go to www.bainbridge peopleforparks.org

Dawn Janow and Jay Kinney are parks commissioners for the district.

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