VOTERS should approve King County Proposition 1 for parks on the Aug. 6 ballot, despite a 40 percent rate increase from expiring parks levies.
The justified increase will allow new parkland acquisitions and ensure county parks are maintained and can be enjoyed by more people.
This six-year property-tax levy would replace two levies voters passed in 2007. Both expire at year-end. Most of the money would be used to maintain about 200 city and county parks, 175 miles of trails, 26,000 acres of open space and the Woodland Park Zoo.
The rest would be set aside for additional land acquisitions soon before prices rise. Proposed investments include portions of the Eastside Rail Corridor from Woodinville to Renton and the Lake to Sound Trail between Renton and Des Moines.
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Some acquisitions would be in areas of the county where statistics suggest people are in poorer health and might benefit from more park access.
Since 2003, parks have received zero support from the county’s general fund because of major budget constraints. Passage of Proposition 1 would cover about 70 percent of costs. The remaining 30 percent would continue to come from private partnerships and other sources.
If this levy fails, some county parks might close or be returned to cities.
The county is taking on a risk by proposing a 40-percent increase over current tax rates. The current rate of 13.4 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value would go to 18.77 cents. That translates to a new rate of about $56 per year for a home valued at $300,000.
What makes the case for the King County Parks Levy is the public good it provides to outdoors-loving Northwest residents who like to walk, run, swim, hike and bike.
The result could also contribute to a healthier population.