Many letters have been published in these pages both for and against Kirkland Proposition 2, Levy for City Parks Maintenance, Operation and Enhancement. I confess that I share some of the concerns with those speaking against. Higher city taxes now seem counter-intuitive. However, after consideration of both the pros and the cons, I have to side with those supporting this levy.
The facts are that the recent economic slump caused a significant squeeze in tax revenues for the city. The City Council acted responsibly in preserving essential services such as police and fire protection, but this budgetary triage necessarily caused “non-essential” budget items such as parks to suffer. Tax revenues have been slow to recover, and our parks can no longer stand the reduced services and capital investment that these budget cuts have caused.
Yes, I wish the City Council could “find” the funds to restore parks funding to its pre-recession level, but this is unlikely for the foreseeable future. In the meantime, our parks, our quality of life, and our property values will suffer. Proposition 2 funding can only be used for park maintenance and capital investment, and cannot be subsumed into the general fund for other purposes. The annual cost is a modest $55 per year for a $346K house, the median value in Kirkland, and even smaller ($35 per year) for Finn Hill residents because it will allow the current Finn Hill Park and Recreation District levy to be retired.
We all know that our parks are a significant contributor to our quality of life in Kirkland. They’re one of the reasons we choose to live here. But their value is monetary as well as aesthetic. It is well known that attractive, well maintained parks improve real estate values in their area. Say you own the median home; don’t you think it likely that more and better-maintained parks will add more than $550 (0.2%) to the value of your home if you sell it in, say, 10 years? A vote for Proposition 2 is a vote for a better Kirkland, and a good investment. I suggest you vote your lifestyle AND your pocketbook. Vote “Yes” for Proposition 2.
-Rick Smith, Kirkland