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Ferndale Council to take another step toward taxing district for parks, trails

The City Council would govern a metropolitan park district, should city residents vote in November to form the new taxing district to raise money for parks and trails in Ferndale.

The district would have the same boundaries as the city.

Those details are in a resolution going before the City Council at its next meeting on Feb. 17. Council members must approve the resolution to put the proposal on the Nov. 3 ballot.

The city has been looking for additional sources of revenue for its green space. Residents often ask the city for more amenities, including playground and recreation equipment in neighborhood parks, as well as trails linking the parks, but there isn’t money in the budget for such projects, city leaders have said. The city spends about $450,000 a year now just to maintain Ferndale parks and green spaces.

The City Council has been working on the idea of a metropolitan park district for some months, expressing concerns along the way about having a separate elected board govern the district as allowed under state law.

State law also allows the City Council to fill that role.

It’s a system that’s similar to the citywide transportation benefit district, which is governed by the council wearing a different hat as the district’s board.

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 the City Council sitting as the district’s board.

But the council would tell voters, prior to November, whether they would raise property tax rates by up to 25 cents, 50 cents or 75 cents — the increments allowed by state law — per $1,000 of a home’s assessed value.

In previous discussions, council members indicated they didn’t like the highest rate.

City leaders also plan to tell residents, before they vote, what projects they would undertake should the taxing district be approved.

“We want voters to have that information in hand,” said Sam Taylor, assistant city administrator for Ferndale. “In the end, this is their park system and their money paying for their park system.”

IF YOU GO

The Ferndale City Council will meet 6 p.m. Feb. 17 at the City Hall Annex, 5694 Second Ave.

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