I am writing express my concern and urge people to vote against the set up of a Metropolitan Park District on the south side of Bellingham to pay for the Chuckanut Community Forest. As is usually the case, the devil is in the details of this proposal. Proponents of this plan have conveniently provided few of those details to the public.
Park districts are the darling child of the property tax levy system! They have at their disposal up to a .75 per $1,000 valuation levy depending on how much the five-member commission wants to raise. When property taxes are higher than the legal limit, park districts in some instances get their money before fire districts. And most importantly, tax levies imposed by park districts never ever expire.
Park districts have very broad powers. They have power of eminent domain. They can annex more territory with only 25 signatures. They can pay their commissioners.
The most important detail that proponents have left out is that there need not be a five-member commission set up to manage this land. The park district could be set up and run by the city Parks Department. One should question why we need this additional bureaucracy to manage this land.
I encourage the south side residents to vote no on the Metropolitan Park District.