The City Council of Wenatchee, WA, is considering asking voters to approve the creation of a new parks district. If voters approve the creation of Wenatchee Metropolitan Park District, that entity would have the authority to impose a property tax to raise funds for parks and recreation facilities and services.
The move is being considered because the city, which currently manages and funds parks and recreation facilities in the area, is facing massive budget cuts, according to local media reports.
The city budget now allows $550,000 per year for parks and recreation. However, that funding may be reduced or eliminated altogether because the city recently has committed to take over debt payments of a flailing local arena, according to a memo the city’s park director, Dave Erickson, sent to the parks board.
In the memo, reported in the Wenatchee World newspaper, Erickson recommended that the parks district, if approved, institute a property tax of 35 cents (out of a permitted 75 cents) per $1,000 of the property’s value. The rate would generate an estimated $775,000 per year to cover the current parks and recreation programming and establish a capital improvements fund, Erickson said.
If the parks district is approved, the city would have to decide whether it would continue to manage the park and recreation services with the revenues surrendered by the parks district or whether it would lease the facilities to the district to manage instead.