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Parks director reimburses district for time spent on campaign letter

South Whidbey Parks & Recreation District Terri Arnold has reimbursed the district for time spent writing a campaign letter on a public computer.

Last week, she reported to park commissioners she will pay an amount equal to 30 minutes of her salary, or $12.75.

On Friday, Sept. 5 Arnold sent a letter to island newspapers that she wrote on a district computer asking voters to approve the district's November ballot measure for a $15.2 million bond to pay for the construction of an aquatics and recreation center.

State law prohibits the use of public facilities, such as district computers, to support or oppose a ballot proposition.

Generally, a letter to the editor supporting a ballot proposition is seen as a private activity, which employees of public agencies can do, including using their title in the letter, so long as they do so on their own time with private resources.

Arnold also sent e-mails from her office to a part-time district employee, park summer camp director Adele Sanders, offering advice on how Sanders could compose her own letter supporting the recreation center.

All of the e-mails were sent from dirswprd@whidbey.com, Arnold's e-mail address at her office in Community Park.

At the time, Arnold said it was a careless error when she improperly used the district's computer supporting the center.

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