Mayor Ed Murray today announced that he will send legislation to the City Council proposing a new sustainable funding source to repair, maintain and restore basic services at the City’s parks, community centers and regional attractions such as the Woodland Park Zoo and Seattle Aquarium.
“In Seattle, we love and enjoy the 465 parks and 26 community centers built and acquired by the city over the past century,” said Murray at a press conference, flanked by organizational partners and community supporters. “We understand that a safe, active, and accessible parks system is an essential part of a healthy, vibrant, thriving city. By providing sustainable funding for much-needed repairs and improvements at our parks, we have an opportunity to be more than grateful beneficiaries of a previous legacy – we can create our own legacy for future generations. ”
According to a press release from the mayor’s office, Murray’s proposal would fund on average 40y additional parks and community centers maintenance projects each year, including ongoing funding to complete as many as twelve maintenance projects at the Woodland Park Zoo and Seattle Aquarium/
Community centers would also be open for more hours, provide funding to make upgrades to existing community centers, and leave open the possibility of adding more community centers as the city grows.
Also, it would expand programming for seniors, people with disabilities and underserved populations; develop fourteen new parks on land already in city ownership; and provide funding for an urban parks partnership model to promote creative collaborations in downtown to activate parks with a focus on safety.
Murray’s proposal would implement the Parks Legacy Plan Citizens Advisory Committee’s recommendation for creating a park district. The model, implemented in sixteen jurisdictions already in Washington, would put in place a stable and dedicated funding source for parks.
“I believe our community will embrace a park district as a reliable, ongoing source of funding that is accountable to the public and mirrors the commitment of Seattle’s residents to keeping our parks open and accessible to everyone,” said Murray, who noted that a perpetual lack of funding has created a $267 million backlog of maintenance projects at facilities all across the city.
The park district will be a junior taxing authority with the ability to levy up to $.75 per $1,000 of assessed value. The Mayor’s package would tax homeowners at a rate of about $.42 per $1,000 of assessed value and collect about $54 million a year. It would cost the owner of a $400,000 home in Seattle about $14 a month, or around 50 cents per day.