Polling conducted on behalf of Seattle parks advocates found that voters support the formation of a Metropolitan Parks District by a 61-percent-to-31-percent margin, good news for some parks leaders who are considering the new taxing source to fund the parks system when the current levy expires this year. The other eight percent said they didn’t know.
The telephone survey of 703 likely Seattle primary voters also found strong support for a $54 million funding measure, more than double the current $26 million Parks and Green Spaces levy approved in 2008. Support remained strong — 72 percent — when respondents were told that a $54 million package would cost the owner of a $400,000 home about $168 per year.
The poll, by the market research firm EMC, had a 3.7-percent margin of error. The survey was paid for by the Seattle Parks Foundation, the Associated Recreation Council, the Seattle Aquarium and the Woodland Park Zoo.
The parks department is facing an almost $270 million maintenance backlog and hasn’t been able to develop some of the parks land it acquired with money from the 2008 levy because of budget constraints.
An MPD would create a permanent taxing authority with its own governing board, most likely the Seattle City Council, and could raise more money than a levy. It also would be a permanent source of funding, unlike a levy, which must be renewed.
But the idea has been unpopular with some parks activists who say an MPD lacks the accountability and oversight of a levy and might lead to the city’s general fund support for parks being cut over time as other city priorities emerged.
A citizen’s committee held public meetings in January on a potential funding measure. Those results, as well as the telephone survey findings, will be considered before the group makes a recommendation to the mayor and city council about the type of funding measure and amount. The proposal could go to voters in the August primary.