County parks bond, maintenance levy placed on September ballot
by Jeff Switzer
In what they termed an effort to secure open space and active recreation land for the future, the King County Council passed two ordinances last week putting a $215 million bond measure and a $30.5 million parks maintenance levy on the Sept. 17 ballot.
The council voted 11-2 to put the bond on the ballot, and 10-3 for the maintenance levy vote. Councilmembers Chris Vance and Kent Pullen, representing south county districts, voted against both measures: Vance citing a fear of the precedent it sets for regional funding, and Pullen stating his concern against rising property taxes. Councilmember Pete von Reichbauer also voted against the maintenance levy.
During the discussion, the council amended the language to state that, if the bonds do not pass and the maintenance levy does, the county will have until 2001 to resubmit the bonds for voter approval. If they do not pass by then, the levy proceeds will be rolled back to the voters.
If approved by 60 percent of the voters, sale of the 30-year bonds will increase property taxes by about $0.14 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, or $21.50 on a $150,000 home, though there are a number of variables involved, such as when the bonds are sold and at what interest rate. The maintenance levy will be assessed only in 1997 for $0.25 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, or $37.50 on a $150,000 home.
About 70 percent of the proceeds go to projects submitted by local jurisdictions based on population and assessed valuation; 30 percent will go to critical resource preservation, including forests, critical habitats, waterways, stream restoration, and urban waterway projects.
About $15 million will go toward partnership projects to be identified next spring, in which jurisdictions can partner with school districts on projects to be approved by the county.
Councilmember Louise Miller, who represents Woodinville, Duvall, Carnation, and east King County on the council, says the cost to property owners for the bonds is the equivalent of two pizzas.
"This really is the Forward Thrust issue of the '90s," she said, comparing it to the 1989 parks bond. "It will benefit every community in the county for generations to come."
Miller said she wanted to make sure people understood they wouldn't be getting a double-whammy the first year, as the levy would be 1997 only, and the bonds begin in 1998.
In total, the project list for the bonds includes:
Projects in Woodinville, Northshore
- acquisition of 70 acres of sports fields, plus development of 78 and renovation of 40;
- development and renovation of 35 tennis and basketball courts;
- and acquisition of 77 acres and renovation of 45 acres of open space, 17 miles of trails, 386 acres of community parks, five community centers, and renovation of three community pools.
Five projects totaling $888,748 are on the list from the City of Woodinville, each of them approved at or above the requested amounts:
Bothell's "Family Aquatics Center" would receive $886,860 for renovation and redesign of the existing King County Pool, and $295,620 for a "joint city sports field upgrade."
- Wilmot Gateway Park ($438,748);
- acquisition of 20 acres of open space ($300,000);
- a park, play structure, and trail link between two subdivisions in Kingswood ($50,000);
- development of a five-acre park with a play structure in Wellington ($50,000);
- and acquisition and development of a Wellington pond "interpretive facility" ($50,000).
In unincorporated north and northeast King County:
Critical resources protection
- a trestle upgrade project across the Snoqualmie River between Snoqualmie and Duvall Park, opening three miles of trails ($253,000);
- acquisition of an athletic field site in east Woodinville ($700,000);
- restoration of parts of the Burke-Gilman trail ($250,000);
- acquisition of sports fields in Kenmore ($1 million);
- development of the Northshore Athletic Fields in the Sammamish River Valley just south of the City of Woodinville ($1.8 million);
- a bridge over the Sammamish River for the Tolt Pipeline Trail ($350,000);
- and $2,547,406 in funds for use on various park and open space improvements throughout the unincorporated areas.
Critical resources totaling $52.5 million throughout the county are to be protected. Included are:
- acquisition of 85 acres adjacent to and north of Bear Creek ($1.75 million);
- $2 million for the acquisition of development rights of key parcels of farmland and forests in the Sammamish River Valley;
- purchase of 13 acres of forest on Lower Bear Creek--the last remaining old second-growth on lower Bear Creek;
- and purchase of 98 acres of forest linking Bear Creek and the Redmond Watershed.