On Aug. 5, 2014, voters in the City of Seattle approved Proposition 1, which created the Seattle Park District. Property taxes collected by the Seattle Park District will provide funding for City parks and recreation including maintaining parklands and facilities, operating community centers and recreation programs, and developing new neighborhood parks on previously acquired sites.
The Park District will be governed by the Seattle City Council acting ex officio as the District Board. As established in an interlocal agreement between the City and the District, Seattle Parks and Recreation will provide services on behalf of the Park District.
The District Board will appoint a Community Oversight Committee to provide advice on spending and activities. The committee will have 15 members: four Park Board members, a member from each Council district, and four additional members to be considered for appointment based on recommendations from City commissions including the Immigrant and Refugee Commission, the Commission for People with Disabilities, the Human Rights Commission, the Seattle Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Commission and the Women’s Commission. All appointments will be confirmed by the City Council and the Mayor will appoint the Chair of the Oversight Committee.
All members will be confirmed before full the full City Council on Monday, April 13.
2015 is a ramp-up year for the Park District, with 2016 being the first year that the District collects property tax. The 2015 ramp-up year services will be funded by a $10 million loan from the City to the District which will be paid back from District revenue over eight years, beginning in 2016. As established in the District’s 2015 budget, adopted by the Park District Board, part of the ramp-up year funding is allocated for behind-the-scenes work which will ensure smart use of full funding in subsequent years. Other funds will be used to increase programming, maintenance and public service.
In 2015, Seattle Parks and Recreation will use Park District funds to:
- Provide cleaner, better maintained parks and facilities;
- Provide more staff at community centers;
- Increase programming and activation at downtown parks;
- Increase support for the Green Seattle Partnership, which will improve the health of the urban forest;
- Begin dementia-friendly programming for seniors;
- Expand programming for people with disabilities;
- Create a strategic plan for off-leash areas, which will guide future off-leash area improvements;
- Begin offering scholarships later in the year for recreation programs;
- Purchase and implement an asset management and work order system which will improve Parks tracking and forecasting major maintenance needs; and
- Begin planning and design work for major maintenance and renovation projects to be constructed in 2016.
The official page for the Park District is managed by City Clerk’s Office. Seattle Parks and Recreation will provide updates on the implementation of the Park District throughout 2015 on the department’s website and blog.
The Seattle Park District Board’s next meeting will be held at 2:30 p.m. (or immediately following the regularly scheduled meeting of the Seattle City Council, whichever is later) on Monday, March 30.