Park district seeks islanders’ input for April levy vote

The district is currently seeking islanders to form two committees and prepare statements.

The Vashon Park District board agreed to move forward with proposing a 52-cent, four-year levy to voters this spring, which commissioners said will allow the district to fulfill the majority of its financial and maintenance goals.

The district is currently seeking islanders to form two committees and prepare statements in favor of, or in opposition to, raising its levy up from 50 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value, which was narrowly approved by voters in 2015. The levy will appear on the ballot on April 23.

According to Executive Director Elaine Ott-Rocheford, a 52-cent levy would allow the district to meet its goals of establishing a $400,000 minimum permanent reserve and complete deferred maintenance projects — which she described as asset preservation — outlined in a strategic plan approved last November that was based on results of the district’s 2016 community survey. Ott- Rocheford cautioned that increasing the levy will not create a windfall for the district. In keeping with their goals, she said that after four years, the budget will be tight, namely concerning the minimum the district is committed to saving in its reserve.

“I call it ‘not a penny more,’ because that’s basically what we did,” said commissioner Hans Van Dusen at the Jan. 22 meeting. “[This is] only what we need to fufull the plan and our financial policy.”

Commissioners have expressed at past meetings that they were interested in proposing a 55-cent levy to voters, but the idea fell out of favor after discussions about exploring all options available.

Ott-Rocheford added that she estimates the current 50-cent levy has eroded to 41 cents due to the increase of assessed property values on the island. With median home values on the island at $600,000, the increased levy would cost the average island homeowner approximately $12 more a year, said Van Dusen.

Commissioner Doug Ostrom opposed the vote for the 52-cent levy, elaborating in an email that while he was not against the levy, he preferred exploring an alternative.

Those interested in more information and helping draft levy pro/con statements have until Feb. 21 to contact Ott-Rocheford at eott@vashonparks.org with their name and contact information.

— Paul Rowley

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