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Back to polls, again, for Si View Parks District | Prop. 1 maintains programs
In a tight economy, the Si View Metropolitan Parks District has twice successfully gone to its voters to preserve its funding. This year is no different, in that Si View has a Prop. 1 on the ballot, but in terms of what Si View returns on that investment, it’s already been a lot different.
“Have we expanded? Well, we really just refined what we currently run,” says Executive Director Travis Stombaugh. “We don’t have more offerings, but we serve more people. Each program has gotten bigger and bigger.”
The parks district, serving about 40,000 residents in North Bend, unincorporated Snoqualmie, Fall City and the Lower Valley, has had about 112,000 participants in one or more of its programs so far this year.
Also, following a major capital project to renovate the facility and fields, the district expanded its successful farmers market, concluding the 2013 season with a 15 percent increase in visitors over last year, and nearly $4,000 more in revenue than expenses. It has also slowly increased its revenue from fees and grants; earned revenue now accounts for 50 percent of the district’s funding.
“We’ve always been property tax sensitive. We’ve always had the thought of any new programming, or growth, paying for growth,” Stombaugh said.
Si View has been fine-tuning its offerings and operations for years, since property values dropped and levy rates rose to make up the difference. The district was on track to lose all property tax revenues, because of a state-imposed maximum tax rate of $5.90 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. Higher-priority taxing agencies, such as fire and hospital districts, all took their shares of the $5.90 before Si View could, leaving the district scrambling.
“Basically, everyone else gets theirs before we get ours,” Stombaugh said.
In 2011, the district appealed to voters to preserve its 2012 funding with two measures that would allow Si View to exceed the $5.90 cap, if needed (not all of its service area properties meet the cap). Prop. 1 was a six-year proposal to protect part of the district’s annual levy amount, equal to 25 cents per $1,000, and Prop. 2 was a one-year maintenance and operations levy of 28 cents per $1,000 for the remainder of the funding. Almost 90 percent of voters approved Prop. 1, and 75 percent approved the $462,000 Prop. 2. Last year, 76 percent of voters again approved the levy.
This year, the district seeks $540,016, at a rate of no more than 28 cents per $1,000. To pass, Prop. 1 will need a 60 percent approval and a minimum voter turnout, with a minimum of 2,018 yes votes. Learn more at www.siviewpark.org.