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 For example, park maintenance hours have been reduced by 20%, and park capital expenditures (such as replacement of outdated or aging facilities) have been sliced by nearly 40%.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