The timing couldn’t be worse for the island’s Metro Park & Recreation District Board decision to ask voters to restore the 2009 regular levy rate to 75 cents per $1,000 assessed value. The board decided to go forward with the measure before the current economic situation worsened last month.
If passed, the measure would generate an additional $1.1 million to $1.2 million annually, beginning in April. The lift would mean that property tax for a median-priced home of $600,000 would increase by about $100 per year. The money would be used exclusively for maintenance (25 percent), and acquisition and development of new park facilities.
Because of inflation and increasing operational costs, the board decided the lid-lift is necessary to provide funding for more than just maintaining its parks. The additional funding would aid the appropriate transfer of responsibility for parks such as Waterfront Park and Strawberry Plant Park from the city to the Park District, and pump more life into the island’s flourishing park system.
Some will argue that this is no time to tax islanders for non-essential issues, while others say that it makes sense to maintain our local parks when a sour economy keeps people at home more than when times are good. Others may argue that while the measure is relatively small (when compared to the $8.7 million bond issue approved in 2001 for the purpose of purchasing open space properties), its passage may doom future measures, such as procuring funding for the purchase of parcels for parks in the Winslow core area.
The Park District needs additional money to maintain and improve its current inventory, though there will be some acquisition surrounding these properties for various reasons, such as land for parking lots and connecting trails.
It’s a difficult decision for voters, but we believe the district’s pledge and track record in involving the community in the decision-making process on how the money will be spent is a deal-maker. Islanders have chosen to support a strong park system during the last decade, but the funding and work required to make it an exceptional system is far from done. Should we allow our network of parks to slip backward or continue to go forward? The latter, we believe.
Initiatives 985, 1000, 1029
No. 985: The measure would essentially dedicate additional funding to our state’s highways for the purpose of improving traffic-flow where required.
Not a bad idea, perhaps, especially if it would help the state’s economy. But we’d rather focus on our educational system and helping our more vulnerable c itizens help themselves during a time of extreme economic downturn. NO.
No. 1000: The measure would allow terminally ill residents who have six months or less to live to self-administer lethal medication prescribed by a physician. This is a personal issue for most Americans and one that we will remain neutral on. Do we have the right to decide when our life shall end? A similar measure has worked relatively well in Oregon, primarily because of the many safeguards and conditions attached to it. Vote your conscience.
No. 1029: It would require long-term care workers to be certified as home-care aides based on an examination that has some exceptions. It would create some degree of bureacracy, but it is an important issue for the care of the elderly and persons with disabilities. It’s another level of ensuring that the peopole who are caring for the most vulnerable are qualified. YES.