King County voters will be asked to approve a renewal and expansion of a property tax levy on the August ballot. The levy will fund parks, zoos and trails across the county.
Proposition 1 would provide funding for county and city park districts as well as facilities like Woodland Park Zoo, the Seattle Aquarium and trails. It would authorize another six-year property tax beginning in 2020 at $.1832 per $1,000 of assessed property value. It only requires a simple majority, or more than 50 percent of voters, to approve it.
King County owns and operates about 28,000 acres of parks and more than 175 miles of trails. Three prior levies have been approved by county voters in 2003, 2007 and 2013. The most recent levy expires at the end of 2019. During the last two cycles, towns and cities in King County have additionally received funding from the levies.
The campaign in favor of the proposition had raised more than $200,000 as of July 1. No groups opposed to the levy had registered with the Public Disclosure Commission as of July 1. The largest donors supporting the levy included the Woodland Park Zoological Society, which had donated more than $121,500 and the Seattle Aquarium which donated $50,000. A support statement for the proposition said it would raise the typical homeowner’s property taxes by around $2.28 a month over the current levy.
In the 2008 and 2013 levies, towns and cities could use proceeds from the tax for open space and natural land acquisitions and to develop local trails that supported connections to regional systems. According to the levy text, about 500,000 people in King County live without easy access to parks and open spaces, especially for under-served populations like people with disabilities.
The August levy would exempt low-income seniors, disabled veterans and others with disabilities from the regular property tax increase on their homes.
As much as $8 million could be sent to the Seattle Aquarium to be used for capital costs for the Ocean Pavilion project. As much as $44 million would go to publicly owned pools, and $22 million to habitat restoration and open space purchasing.
The rest of the levy would be used for open spaces and an equity grant program as well as preserving and conserving open spaces and natural areas. Some 8 percent of levy proceeds would go to towns and cities in the county, and 5 percent of the levy proceeds would go to the Woodland Park Zoological Society for environmental education, horticulture and maintenance of buildings and grounds as well as species conservation.