The Key Peninsula Parks District is asking voters to help keep operations and maintenance running at the same level in the coming year.
A levy on the Nov. 5 general election ballot would bring in $700,000 for KeyPen Parks. If approved, the levy would raise the property tax by 39 cents per $1,000 for 2014.
The levy would help fund operations and maintenance in the parks system, according to the Pierce County voters’ pamphlet. Property taxes make up 75 percent of the parks district’s budget.
KeyPen Parks has seen a “substantial decline” in revenue, according to the voter guide. Although the levy is for 2014, the money would ensure operations for 2015, parks board vice president Bill Trandum said.
“This is really to protect our operations for 2015,” he said. “That’s really where we see the big ouch coming.”
With the decline in Key Peninsula property values, the parks district has not seen a consistent income from tax dollars. The levy would be a consistent level for one year. It would mean continuing to match grant money and “business as usual,” Trandum said.
Although it is an excess levy, Proposition 1 is there to maintain the current operations of the park. Failure wouldn’t result in large cutbacks — it won’t mean the district will “turn off the lights and close the doors” — but it would make parks maintenance more difficult, executive director Scott Gallacher said.
“I’m the not the kind of person who is doom and gloom,” he said.
The parks district operates on money that comes from a countywide tax that has a $5.90 limit. The money is spread out among areas such as fire districts, road maintenance and library districts.
KeyPen Parks is never sure what chunk of that money will be its share. Without the excess levy, the parks district may only collect about 20 cents from the limit, according to Trandum’s estimate. At about 30 cents is where layoffs would occur, he said.
Therefore, the district is asking for a one-year, 39-cent commitment from voters. The money available from the $5.90 tax, which the parks district can opt not to collect, will not be taken if the levy passes.
“If you don’t really need it, you don’t take it,” Trandum said.
The money that comes in will be added to already saved money that is there in case taxes don’t come through, Trandum said. The money saved is used to match grants.
“We really run a frugal operation,” he said.
Failure could mean endangering the partnership at Horseshoe Lake between PenMet Parks, KeyPen Parks and Kitsap County. Currently, the park is open all week due to the partnership. When it was previously managed by Kitsap County alone, the park was only open three days a week.