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Letter: Rejecting Propositions 1 and 2 Won’t Help Our Roads and Parks

Scott Morris of Finn Hill says roads and parks need help, and it's up to voters to make sure Kirkland remains a first-class community.

 

Dear Editor,

Those who support and those who oppose Kirkland Propositions 1 and 2 – the roads and parks levies – agree on the fundamental facts: the city’s road maintenance is not what it should be and park maintenance has been cut back severely.

But, oddly, the opponents say that the solution is to reject the levies, not approve them. They claim that Kirkland has plenty of money to address road and park problems already, and that there would be no need for additional taxes – even small ones – if the City Council would just move funds into road and park maintenance.

If only the world were so simple. The truth is that the recession caused a decline in sales and property tax revenues while, with annexation, demand for city services has gone up. Faced with this squeeze, the City Council chose to protect essential services like fire and police – which is what citizen surveys said they should do – and trim in other areas. For example, park maintenance hours have been reduced by 20%, and park capital expenditures (such as replacement of outdated or aging facilities) have been sliced by nearly 40%.

It’s noteworthy that in the past few years, we’ve elected some financially astute and fiscally conservative city council members. They are focused on making sure that tax dollars are used efficiently. And they have concluded that we do need the parks and road levies. The council has supported Propositions 1 and 2 unanimously, and these levies have been endorsed by a host of former Kirkland mayors, council members, and city leaders.

Put simply, Kirkland’s roads and parks need financial help. Making believe that sufficient money can be found in the current city budget won’t solve the problem we face. Propositions 1 and 2 provide the funds that we need to fix our roads and keep our parks in good condition, and they ensure that those funds won’t be used for any other purpose.

I don’t like taxes but I’m willing to pay a little more to ensure that Kirkland remains a first-class community, not one that is slipping into decline. Kirkland is a special place, largely because its citizens have repeatedly stepped up to build a great park system and maintain the city’s infrastructure. Let’s continue that tradition. Let’s vote “yes” on Propositions 1 and 2.

-Scott Morris, Kirkland

Robert L. Style November 04, 2012 at 05:38 PM
It's wrong to blame the budget's artifically created shortfall on the economy. The short fall is because the Council wants to provide services sooner than the money is available. The Council agreed that service levels be increased at a rate that revenues will allow. Tha't not being done. If funding for roads and parks is not adequate, identify who's to blame. With more money in their budget than ever before, there's no reason to not fund parks and roads first. The costs of Props 1 and 2 is less than one percent of the budget. So why doesnt' the Council fund them first? Bob Style
Rick Butzberger November 04, 2012 at 10:32 PM
I support Kirkland Propositions 1 and 2 to maintain and improve our roads and parks. The $5 a month for the typical home is a sound investment in our future, and will actually yield dividends in the form of increased property values. I'm looking forward to the joys of having the Cross Kirkland Corridor Trail completed. My property taxes having decreased several hundred dollars a year recently due to lower assessments. Having dedicated funding to ensure top-notch roads and recreation areas will help reverse the trend of declining property values. Objections to these levies are usually delivered without any mention of what specific cuts should be made in other programs in order to ensure sufficient funding for maintaining and improving our parks and roads. Please enlighten us.
Shelley Kloba November 06, 2012 at 01:01 AM
While reading the voter's pamphlet in its entirety, I noticed an interesting trend that would seem to counter Mr. Style's constant theme. A number of cities around King County have levies on the ballot this election. Kirkland is only one of many communities that has had to struggle with decreased per capita revenues during the economic crisis that we are slowly digging ourselves out of. Normandy Park is doing one to cover city services at 29 cents per $1000 of assessed value (mil rate). Mt. Si has a Metro Parks District, which means that their park district is its own taxing authority. They have a maintenance and operations levy at a 27 cent mil rate. Snoqualmie is running one for public safety, streets, AND park maintenance for a 24 cent mil rate. Kent is running a parks and streets levy, at a 37 cent mil rate. Our Prop 1 and 2 combined are a 36 cent mil rate. All of these cities have had to cut services, some even went further into the bone that we did and cut safety funding. Now is the time to restore our funding to previous rates, and allow us to take advantage of great opportunities for developing our parks and roads. Our city gets national awards for their budgeting practices, and we have a AAA bond rating, which keeps our borrowing rates low. Join with other Kirklanders who want the safety, security, and quality community infrastructure that will be provided with the passage of Prop. 1 and 2.

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