No one questions the community’s need for parks and affordable recreation services, but creating another single-purpose taxing district to deliver them is not the way.
A metropolitan park district (MPD) in University Place would duplicate municipal services, increase costs and levy new taxes on the most highly taxed city in Pierce County.
The April 26 special election will cost us $35,000. The new legislative body will cost $50,000 to $60,000 per year, before hiring staff, building facilities, buying equipment or purchasing land.
Subordinate taxing districts and irresponsible City Council actions have left our city $44.6 million in debt, with debt service costs of more than $280,000 per month. Paying off our loans should be a priority.
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If approved, the MPD would be able to borrow additional funds, establish local improvement districts and tax residents up to 75 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation. There would be bond costs and future increases.
The average taxpayer is already paying $4,759 for property taxes, nearly $1,500 above the county average.
A better approach might be downsizing city management and further reducing municipal service costs. We need to find a more balanced and less costly approach to funding municipal services, including parks and recreation, without duplicating municipal structures or duping taxpayers on MPD costs.