Skip to main content

Originally published Tuesday, July 22, 2014 at 4:17 PM

  • Share:
  • Comments
  • Print

Editorial: Seattle’s Proposition 1 is not the last resort for parks

Seattle residents should vote against the formation of a Seattle Park District. Prop 1 proponents are misleading voters when they say there is no other funding available for parks.

Seattle Times Editorial

Reader Comments
Hide / Show comments
This gives way, way too much power to a handful of advocates. A permanent tax board that cannot ever be revoked and can... MORE
A levy lists each project that is to be financed with citizens' taxes, ensures funding for neighborhood projects, is... MORE
If you think the City Council will listen to the people, just remember that these are the very same people who brought... MORE


PROPONENTS of Proposition 1 are misleading voters when they claim approval of a Seattle Park District on the Aug. 5 ballot is the only way to save city parks. The measure represents a significant change in governance and a tax increase.

Former Superintendent Ken Bounds recently told KUOW’s The Record, “If this fails, there is no funding.”

This all-or-nothing approach is troublesome because an alternate funding measure could indeed make the ballot as early as next February.

If voters approve Proposition 1, new taxes would not even be collected until 2016. According to the city’s proposed six-year spending plan, the Parks and Recreation Department would get through the next year by borrowing about $10 million.

After that, the Seattle Park District — headed by City Council members — would have the authority to tax up to 75 cents per $1,000 of assessed value on property owners without voter input, a massive increase from the expiring levy of about 19 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. Council members say they will only collect 33 cents per $1,000 value initially.

Investment is important. Leaky community center roofs and dirty pools must get fixed, but not enough of Proposition 1 funds — only about 58 percent — would be spent on repairing a maintenance backlog that has ballooned to nearly $270 million. Instead of taking care of current assets, about a quarter of the new park district’s first-year revenue would be spent on expansion and development.

Before attempting to replace a parks levy that voters approve every few years with a vastly different funding mechanism that gives the City Council control over a new fund worth tens of millions, the parks system should first undergo an independent, comprehensive audit. Such a review has never been done before, but it would help prioritize projects and tell voters exactly how their money is being spent.

Voters should remember that once a district is formed and the council takes the reins, it can only be dissolved by its members — a highly unlikely scenario.

Seattle voters are accustomed to having a robust voice on how their dollars are spent. They should not be bamboozled into thinking Proposition 1 is the sole solution for fixing parks.

Editorial board members are editorial page editor Kate Riley, Frank A. Blethen, Ryan Blethen, Sharon Pian Chan, Lance Dickie, Jonathan Martin, Erik Smith, Thanh Tan, William K. Blethen (emeritus) and Robert C. Blethen (emeritus).

Four weeks for 99 cents of unlimited digital access to The Seattle Times. Try it now!

Relive the magic

Relive the magic

Shop for unique souvenirs highlighting great sports moments in Seattle history.



The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►