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City Attorney's Explanatory Statement

City Attorney’s Explanatory Statement for “Seattle Park District” measure placed on the August 5, 2014, ballot.

Seattle Proposition 1, if approved, creates the Seattle Park District, a metropolitan park district with the same boundaries as the City of Seattle. The Seattle Park District would be a distinct municipal corporation with all the powers granted by state law in RCW chapter 35.61, available at: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=35.61.

The governing body of the District would be the councilmembers on the Seattle City Council. Among the District’s powers is the ability to levy an annual property tax, up to $0.75 per thousand dollars of assessed value (or $330 per year on a $440,000 home), to raise revenues to provide ongoing funding to maintain, operate and improve parks, community centers, pools, and other recreation facilities and programs. As a separate taxing authority from the City of Seattle, the District could levy additional property tax above the current “lid” restrictions that state law imposes on Seattle. The District may only be dissolved or its actions reversed by its governing body or a change in state law, but not by local initiative.

When the City placed this measure on the ballot, the Mayor and the Council also approved an ordinance that authorized the Mayor to sign an interlocal agreement with the District should its creation be approved by the voters. Under the proposed interlocal agreement, the City would maintain its current general fund support of the Seattle Park system and the District would supplement City funding by imposing a property tax of approximately $47.9 million per year for the first six years of the District’s operation. That would be $0.33 per thousand dollars of assessed value or $145 per year for an average home with a value of $440,000. Under the proposed interlocal agreement, the City would retain ownership of all parks property and the District would not hire its own staff. The interlocal agreement, if adopted, could be amended or terminated in the future by the City and/or the District.

The companion ordinance, proposed interlocal agreement and spending plan is available at: http://go.usa.gov/8YQA

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