How to Pay for Parks?
In last two years funding for the Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation was reduced in the Seattle City budget. As a result some staff was laid off, programs and hours of availability were reduced, and some maintenance was deferred. This has led to renewed interest in how to fund our parks and community centers. An article in the March 6 Seattle Times Pacific Magazine describes the challenge of creating new facilities through levies but not providing ongoing funding for operations and maintenance.
Recently the Seattle Parks Foundation and several other organization published a study on this topic. One of the recommendations to increase funding was creating a Metropolitan Parks District (MPD), a legal entity that the State Legislation made possible a few years ago. Several other cities in Washington have done so in recent years. Other funding options include more efficiency in operations, special levies, and user fees. The option of implementing a Metropolitan Parks District has been discussed for some time. Recently an analysis of the MPD idea was pubished on the Seatle Community Council Federation blog.
The back and forth dialog on the topic of funding our parks system is just starting, and will likely heat up as the next budget cycle takes place. As noted in the Seattle Times Pacific Magazine article, there is a wide range of opinions among decision makers, and some don’t feel the problem has as high a priority as funding other projects and services.