Opinion

EDITORIAL | South End parks a community treasure, levy deserves support

The South Whidbey Parks & Recreation District will ask voters to dig a bit deeper into their pocketbooks this month.

The only measure on the April special election ballot, parks commissioners have proposed a levy-lid lift to cover the rising cost of maintenance and operations needs. A modest hike of 3 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation, and the district’s first increase ever — if passed — this is a reasonable request the public should honor.

Formed in 1983, South Whidbey Parks & Recreation District is one the South End’s great public treasures with six different facilities encompassing more than 320 acres: Community Park, the Sports Complex, Trustland Trails, Deer Lake Public Beach, Lone Lake Public Beach, Goss Lake Public Beach and the district’s headquarters on Maxwelton Road. From skateboarders, swimmers and hikers to dog walkers, fishermen and a plethora of youth sports teams, these properties are enjoyed on a community scale and deserve support.

The current levy rate sits at 15 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation and has been static since 1987 The additional 3 cents would add about $115,000 to district coffers and cost a homeowner with a $300,000 home $54 per year.

Voters should note that the proposed levy hike is solely for maintenance and operations needs — the everyday cost of business of keeping the lawns mowed, the staff paid and all the properties listed above open to the public.

The increase would not go toward capital projects, such as the ongoing discussion over a community pool or the more recent discussion concerning the purchase of beach access in Glendale. While these are largely separate issues, there are some links as the upkeep of new acquisitions would then fall under the umbrella of maintenance and operations monies. The board should consider these matters carefully, as it would be disappointing to approve one increase only to face another a few years down the road.

So far, the South Whidbey Parks & Recreation District has not disappointed, and the fantastic facilities under its purview are a credit to the agency. This is one tax hike that deserves support.

Ballots will go out April 2, and must be postmarked or in a drop box no later than 8 p.m. Tuesday, April 22. Drop boxes are located at: Trinity Lutheran Church, 18341 Highway 525, Freeland; Ken’s Corner Red Apple Grocery, 4141 Highway 525, Clinton; and the Island County Elections Office, 400 N. Main St., Coupeville.

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