Schools, parks need levy votes

Though its commissioners have found ways to double the number and size of its playfield space over the past four years without raising taxes, the South Whidbey Parks and Recreation District still isn’t asking for more money this levy year.

Hanging chads won’t be an issue during this election because two-thirds of the registered voters within park district boundaries will receive mail-in ballots so, in the minds of those who want to keep the parks funded, there should be no reason to believe South Whidbey voters will not choose to fund parks in the Feb. 3 election.

This year’s levy issue will be similar to one passed two years ago in that the parks are not asking for an increase in the tax rate. However, instead of going for a two-year levy period, the parks district is asking voters to guarantee levy funding for the coming four years.

The proposed levy is the same amount property owners have had on their tax statements for the past six years, 15 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. This translates to about $30 per year for a house worth $200,000.

During the past six years, the district has more than doubled its total parks land to 120 acres by buying and developing land for sports fields, and purchasing woodland acreage for walking and running trails. This includes 33 acres acquired through a special bond election in 2000 for the sports complex on Langley Road.

Curt Gordon, president of the parks board of directors, said this week that voters who vote “yes” for the levy will be voting in favor of conservative financial management. Currently, the parks district operates its paid programs for cost, and operates with approximately the same number of employees it had prior to expanding the South Whidbey Community Park on Maxwelton and Langley Roads.

“The most important thing is we’re just renewing the 15 cents per thousand,” Gordon said. “And we’re doing it with almost double the field space.”

Two years ago, 69 percent of voters participating in a levy vote approved the parks tax measure.

According to Rick Hill, who is in charge of the committee pushing for “yes” votes on the levy, volunteers are at work collection donations to support the effort. The committee will distribute flyers and yard signs to help boost the “yes” vote count.

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