Proposition 1 Seattle Park District

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This topic contains 34 replies, has 15 voices, and was last updated by  Shelley 3 years, 9 months ago.

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  • #70455

    Kate
    Participant

    The mayor, city council, advisory committee (including former mayors) and the Stranger are among those who support creating a Park District with separate taxing authority.

    The Seattle Times and the League of Women Voters are among those opposed.

    What do you think? Does the Parks Dept filing criminal charges against an overly enthusiastic volunteer affect your decision?

    #70456

    Richy
    Participant

    My understanding it will give taxing authority to the parks board (AKA Seattle city council) and in essence allows the city to add more taxes without citizen input (for the benefit of parks) just like Metro in the 80’s (we repealed that and rolled metro into the county because of just bad management and outrageous taxing) —

    I am a big NO on this

    #70467

    Mondoman
    Participant

    Just as Kate says, I was thinking that Danny Westneat’s article about the criminal(!) charges against the park volunteer came out at a really bad time for the City’s elite who don’t want to have the people be able to vote on parks anymore.
    Rich is right — it’s not like there was any big problem with having periodic park levies that everyone could vote on.

    #70469

    Smells Fishy
    Participant

    This is largely a blank check for a$$holes to spend however they want. Honey loves blank checks but I don’t. Don’t be a fool and vote yes for this. Just look at the propaganda — banners on neighborhood blogs making idiots think it is just for their own neighborhood parks.

    #70484

    Shelley
    Moderator

    The one thing wrong (that I see) with those who are content to continue funding with special levies is that the levies I’ve seen only fund acquisition of the new parks, but not the day to day maintenance of the new parks. Somehow the city council and the mayor haven’t seen fit to increase the maintenance budget to accommodate the new facilities too.

    There was a pretty even-handed piece on KPLU this morning: http://kplu.org/post/seattle-ballot-measure-park-district-divides-parks-advocates

    #70508

    Mondoman
    Participant

    Shelley, I agree with you about the shocking lack of park maintenance funding. However, the proposed MPD also doesn’t require or specify day-to-day maintenance funding, and the same people who currently are not funding it (the City Council) will also have full control of the MPD, just without any citizen votes. Doesn’t seem like a way to get maintenance funding.

    Some of the comments I’ve seen online claim that a major spending plan for the new MPD is new parkland along Alaskan Way once the Viaduct is removed.

    #70518

    Pdaddymom
    Participant

    I love parks. I am voting NO. NO WAY.

    #70531

    SmartsyArtsy
    Participant

    I am voting NO.

    #70538

    PlantLover
    Participant

    How you vote is up to you. I won’t try to argue, but I am voting yes. I make it a policy not to try to persuade people how to vote. I trust you to study the issue – which does not include the comment sections of newspapers or this forum, including this post – and make informed decisions that fit your values.

    What I take exception to is calling the Parks staff assholes. I know a number of Parks employees, from the very top to people who mow grass. There is only one person I would describe that way – he is middle-management. The rest are hard working, wonderful people who are our neighbors and who live and bleed for the Parks system. And I can tell you firsthand that those who decide how levy money is spent agonize over every dollar spent on projects. They don’t deserve abusive language. And no, I do not work for the Parks dept. and never have, nor does anyone I am related to in any way.

    #70562

    Shelley
    Moderator

    +1 PlantLover

    #70581

    Life is amazing
    Participant

    I’m a big no on this one. Parks are wonderful. I don’t want to pay for any more, I want to pay for maintenance for the ones we have.
    I remember when they put in the park up where 15th turns into Holman road. My neighbor worked as a volunteer for the Loyal Heights Community center.
    There was no budget for them so they were dropping the teen rec programs (uhhhh kinda important) at the same time they were building a new park up the road?
    When I called the city I was told that the levy was specifically for new parks, no levy was set aside for maintenance.
    Makes me very disappointing in the way our city government is run. It would be like me budgeting in for a new car but putting no money aside for gas.
    If there is money for parks and rec it should be put where it’s needed for current programs before building new. How many new parks are enough?

    Seems to me that if anything to vote on says
    “For Parks”
    “For Our Schools”
    “For Our Kids”
    People jump on the bandwagon without necessarily looking into whether or not it’s a good idea.

    #70584

    SmartsyArtsy
    Participant

    So true, LIA, very true of transit also. If these measures are carefully reviewed, it is obvious that they are not written to denote accountability and oversight.

    #70586

    Allison W
    Participant

    The more I learn about this, the more I am a no. It’s also really expensive.

    #70587

    boatgeek
    Participant

    I am a yes vote. I think this actually gives us more accountability than the current system when you add in upcoming changes in City Council elections. Here’s why:

    People talk a lot about accountability, but the current system of levies doesn’t really provide accountability. Sure, we vote very six years, but when was the last time a levy failed due to constituent concerns about the parks? I can’t remember one in the twenty years I’ve been voting on them. So there’s a threat of voting down a levy, but it’s not real. It’s like telling your kids that you’ll throw away all their toys if they don’t clean up. Pretty much everyone knows that there’s no chance of follow-through on the threat. Several of you are upset about the lack of maintenance and funding, but appear to be willing to vote for the old system of levies anyway. Isn’t the levy system not working for you, since you’re upset about the current lack of maintenance? IMHO, the levies are a waste of hundreds of thousands of dollars and thousands of hours of volunteer time every six years that do not provide any real value to voters or the parks.

    Right now, we also have the parks run by the Parks Dept under the Mayor’s office. Our elected official accountability runs through the Mayor and tangentially through the City Council’s budget authority. When was the last time you heard about parks being brought up seriously in a city-wide campaign? Just like the levies, I can’t remember that, either. Sure, you see pictures of the candidate in one park or another with children and a dog, and there’s a sentence or two about “maintaining the jewels in the Seattle Parks crown” or some such, but no real debate. It’s just fluff.

    So what changes? With this change, the City Council becomes the governing board for the parks. If we don’t like what they’re doing, we can vote them out. Coincidentally, in the next election, the City Council starts up with district elections. The new districts will allow candidates with smaller war chests and time to canvass neighborhoods to win election. This has the potential to open up debate significantly on neighborhood issues. It’s not that hard to see a campaign focusing on issues like Ballard Commons or the car campers. If parks get neglected by the new district, then people can make it a campaign issue.

    Other good things that come from the change to an MPD:
    Money coming in won’t be restricted to capital or operations. Money restricted to capital improvements was why you saw parks opening up but nobody to staff them (same thing happened with libraries several years ago).

    Roughly 50% of the money in the spending plan is targeted towards the maintenance backlog. I know that isn’t a guarantee, but even opponents say that the council will follow the plan for the first few years at least. That answers many of the complaints about maintenance of our current parks.

    This frees up some levy money for the city. I know this isn’t popular among people who think that taxes are too damn high already, but if we’re going to have nice things like transit or preschool or whatever else, we’re going to have to pay for it. The last legislative session in Olympia and the failure of Prop 1 countywide proved that.

    On the downside, I would have liked them to include a provision for some general public elected officials other than the council, and perhaps a means for voters to dismantle the MPD.

    Finally, the Parks Dept was stupid to exclude the volunteer who cut the trees from the parks, and someone was even stupider to try to prosecute. Yes, I think he went beyond his bounds by cutting the trees without permission, but that’s a spot for training and a chat by a supervisor, not for criminal charges.

    #70589

    Richy
    Participant

    BG, from 1995 to present we have only passed 50% of the levies for parks –

    in 2000 we passed 198 Million for parks of which $ 61,354,000 was allocated for Maintenance and Programming:
    New Park Maintenance $ 7,649,000
    Environmental Stewardship $ 9,701,000
    Enhanced Park and Facility Maintenance $ 5,274,000
    Recreational Programming $ 16,945,000
    Zoo Maintenance and Programming $ 21,785,000
    most did not happen

    In 2008 we passed $148 million for parks of that the citizens advisory for over site put $10 million for high priority maintenance – none of those projects were started.

    in 1995 & 1996 we defeated the Seattle commons levies for park development and maintenance.

    In all the City council has been funding the parks poorly even though the tax payers have given almost $300 million for parks and park maintenance.

    In my opinion giving them (Seattle Council) unfettered taxing power (under a park district) would be a fiscal mistake.

    #70591

    boatgeek
    Participant

    RichY, thanks for the reminder about the Commons levies. While it’s true that those are parks levies, I think they’re also a somewhat special case since they were dedicated to a single project (large SLU park), not to mention a repeat of roughly the same levy although IIRC the second was on a somewhat smaller scale.

    I know I’m asking you to do the research, but what’s your source that most of the 2008 and 2000 levy projects were not started/not done? Is there a list somewhere on what was promised and what hasn’t been done?

    #70594

    Richy
    Participant

    No problem BG – sometimes I am in a hurry and don’t do my normal due-diligence in reading all the words :)

    http://www.seattle.gov/parks/history/bonds.htm
    and
    http://www.seattle.gov/parks/levy/default.htm
    and then compared the listed projects with
    http://www.seattle.gov/parks/levy/development.htm

    #70598

    Life is amazing
    Participant

    Would you two stop it.
    Here I’ve got my mind all made up because I know everything and you, BG, come up with all these intelligent comments that make me say “Hmmmmm maybe he’s right” Then you, Richy, come up with all these intelligent comments that make me say “But wait, maybe HE’S right”.

    It’s irritating.

    How about you two figure it out and let me know what I’m supposed to think then I can put on my cocky know it all again, spout your conclusion as my own, and carry on. ;)

    #70601

    Kate
    Participant

    This is what I’m getting from the discussion:

    The authority and oversight (by the city council) will be the same as it is now.

    Seattle voters have been generally reliably (with the exception of the Commons) passing parks levies.

    The new parks district would only cost the average homeowner $4 more (at least for now) more than the existing, expiring levy.

    Everything would really be exactly the same. So why bother with the parks district? The only answer that makes sense is that they WILL increase the tax… and they’d rather not hear from the voters regarding funding allocation. This isn’t very appealing to me.

    #70624

    boatgeek
    Participant

    LIA, I’ll go to name calling and ad hominem attacks if RichY will just stop posting data and information to back up his opinions. :) So that said, I have to disagree with RichY about the conclusions drawn from the sites posted. What I see on the Development page is a list of projects that are either complete or underway. I don’t see a list of unfulfilled promises. Am I missing something?

    Kate, I definitely get where you’re coming from, and that’s a totally valid reason why the MPD would be put forward. Here’s another one: We spend about $100-$200K direct outlay every six years to get a levy on the ballot, not including soft costs and staff time. Do we want to keep putting that money into a line on the ballot, or do we want to funnel that to fund another playground renovation? I don’t know which one is more accurate, but I think it’s another possible reason.

    #70641

    Richy
    Participant

    BG, sorry about being opinionated but it keeps me off the streets,
    here is how I came to the questionable conclusion:
    from 2011:
    http://www.seattle.gov/parks/levy/default.htm

    Parks and Green Spaces Levy Oversight Committee recommended re-allocating these funds to a specific list of high priority major maintenance projects at Seattle Parks and Recreation. The list of projects ranges from Garfield Community Center roof replacement to Madrona Playground Shelterhouse Restrooms Renovation to Queen Anne Pool Plaster (Pool) Liner Replacement.

    On June 27, 2011, the Committee held a public hearing on the recommendation and received favorable citizen comment and support. The Committee made their final recommendation that $9,758,000 be reallocated from the inflation adjustment for development category to the Opportunity Fund for 17 high priority major maintenance projects. City Council approved the recommendation in November 2011.

    The items as you discovered have not been started (been about 2yrs) and now are asking for more oversight money.

    I also just realized that the park board can also sell and develop new projects ( such as the Seattle Commons, which the city tried 2 time to get us to fund) without asking.

    #70657

    Kate
    Participant

    BG, I see your point. It would be good to save the money spent on levies.

    If they were proposing a taxing authority that could perhaps double (rather than almost quadruple) our current levy rate, provided very clear guidelines for the fund allocation, required performance reviews/audits, and administrative authority separate from the council, I might vote for it.

    #70679

    Sunset Hill David
    Participant

    I believe we have been starving our parks for too long. The employees have been reduced to part-time and maintenance is falling behind. The levy system does not work. I am voting YES!

    #70685

    Edog
    Participant

    Prop 1 does not get rid of the levy system. It transfers the power of who can propose the levy and ups the amount that can be raised by a levy.

    #70690

    Life is amazing
    Participant

    Ha! BG you cracked me up :)

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