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County Council puts parks maintenance, operations levy on August ballot

The Metropolitan King County Council Monday approved sending to the voters in August a six-year property tax levy lid lift proposal to raise revenue for the maintenance and operations of the county’s regional park system, as well as funding for local city parks and the Woodland Park Zoo.

If approved by voters, the proposed levy would replace two voter-approved measures set to expire at the end of 2013.

“All residents of King County have access to the regional park and trail system,” said Council Chair Larry Gossett. “This ordinance will give the people the opportunity to decide how much value they get from the system.”

"The Parks levy proposal that we adopted today is intended to ensure joint parks operations and maintenance,” said Council Vice Chair Julia Patterson. “It also includes trail investments that may eventually connect communities in South King County to our regional parks system.”

“Voters will decide in August whether to continue supporting a parks levy that provides funding to operate and maintain parks like Marymoor and Cougar Mountain, and to expand the regional trail system,” said Councilmember Larry Phillips, Chair of the Transportation, Economy, and Environment Committee.

The King County Parks system has evolved from 150 acres in 1938 to more than 26,000 acres today. Today, regional county parks and trails include Marymoor Park, Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park, the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center and the Sammamish River Trail.

“Voters now have the opportunity to renew this levy and decide if they want to continue supporting the operation of parks and the preservation of open space in King County,” said Councilmember Joe McDermott who chairs the Budget and Fiscal Management Committee.

The adopted legislation sends to voters a six-year property tax levy lid lift of 18.77 cents per $1,000 of assessed value – an estimated $56 per year for the owner of a home valued at $300,000. If approved by voters, the proceeds from the levy would go toward funding the maintenance and operation of King County's 200 parks, 175 miles of regional trails, and 26,000 acres of open space. Levy funds would also be used to expand the regional trails system – including developing the Lake to Sound Trail – and to expand the Community Partnership and Grant program, as well as to support local city parks and the Woodland Park Zoo.

“I want to thank the County Council for giving people the opportunity to support our open space and parks,” county Executive Dow Constantine said. “I also want to thank the King County Parks Levy Task Force members for their thoughtful recommendations on how to keep and maintain our parks with the voters' support.”

The levy proposal is consistent with county’s practice to end the use of General Fund monies on regional parks, trails and open spaces and on local facilities in the rural unincorporated areas. King County also continues its regional business plan for parks with support from non-profit, corporate and community partners.

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