COMMUNITY CONVERSATION: Readers discuss Ferndale park district

COURTESY TO THE BELLINGHAM HERALDFebruary 10, 2014 

Facebook comments about a Feb. 5 news story headlined "Ferndale City Council to ask voters to help pay for parks and trails" by Bellingham Herald reporter Kie Relyea:

Lloyd Zimmerman:

"As much grief as I give the mayor of Ferndale, he has it right about following the school district boundaries. It is the inter-connectivity of trails between cities that carry great potential. The pragmatic function of getting from point A to point B are an important element to a long-term sustainable transportation strategy. It is also gives power to establish and seek rite of ways from recalcitrant land owners for the greater good. With fair compensation, of course."

Delaine Clizbe:

"Moses Lake defeated one of these proposals last year so there is hope!"

Jeff Kelton:

"I would be in favor creating a park district only if Ferndale residents were allowed to vote on any tax increases. I feel that any and all tax increases should be decided by the public."

David Hughes:

"When is the spending going to stop? I am tired of other people trying to spend my cash. When times are good and dollars are flowing, sure, build infrastructure and make improvements, but parks and trails? Would you pay to use them? We are shutting down state and national parks because of lack of funds to maintain them. Forest service roads closed because we stopped logging and now can't pay to fix the roads and now you want me to pay to 'build' a trail that a few will use? Sorry, but no thank you."

Walter Haugen:

"From the article: 'While voters would decide the fate of a metropolitan park district, they wouldn't vote directly on how much to raise their property taxes. That would be up to park district commissioners.'

"It is pretty obvious the council wants this measure to fail. Given the past history of taxation in Ferndale, who in their right mind would vote for a new tax district, but give up control of the amount taxed?"

Eileen Martin:

"Voted no on the school, will vote no for parks. My taxes are high enough right now. Let's pay off what we have voted on first."

Garin Wallace:

" 'You don't want to keep coming to people more and more; $60 is not small change,' Watson said in an interview.

" 'She said the money raised at the lowest level could be used to leverage more dollars through grants, akin to what the city has managed to do with money raised for roads, made possible with a sales tax hike, through the Transportation Benefit District.'

"News flash for councilwoman Watson and others in City of Ferndale government! Those grants that you are leveraging come from taxpayers also."

Perry Eskridge:

"Sheesh! This is getting entirely ridiculous! How much more of my money does the city/school district/county freakin' want? Why don't all you taxing authorities get together and just let us know how much you're going to raise our taxes every year, one fell swoop, one time. One tax vote is barely over before the next one hits the scene! Enough is enough.

"Now, for the actual merits: These metropolitan parks districts have way too much power for my tastes. I don't like that they have condemnation powers for starters. They also have the ability to employ people (not bad in itself, but outside the employment process/budget for the city as a whole), it would have the ability to raise its taxes as it sees fit, and, finally, it has bonding authority so it would have the ability to incur debt. If that is not enough, it is governed by a board that, depending on the structure, may or (most likely) may not be accountable to the voters that, ultimately, pay the price for its operation!

"What is the limit on its powers? Very little so long as it is able to demonstrate that the activity is 'desirable or beneficial to the public, or for the production of revenue for expenditure for park purposes.' How's that for accountability!? I usually support efforts by the Ferndale Council, but this is an issue on which we should 'go to the mattresses!' "

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