Guest writer Margie ( Hanson) Haskell
Vote no on Prop. 1, metropolitan park district. This is not a vote to save the forest, as I believe proponents say. It is a vote for some Southside neighborhoods to become an metropolitan park district. People from all over Bellingham own and enjoy Chuckanut Woods, not just those neighborhoods, and therefore all Bellingham taxpayers should repay the loan the city owes for this purchase. Creating a park district with five commissioners adds a layer of government bureaucracy and levies new property taxes on those few Southside owners.
Proponents say the tax will be 28 cents per $1,000 of property valuation, but state law permits up to 75 cents per $1,000. And the commissioners may buy land and take on additional debt inside or outside of the metropolitan park district. Proponents say it will end in 10 years, once the loan is paid off. Dissolving a metropolitan park district is possible only by RCW 35.61.310. I believe it is highly unlikely to ever happen.
They chose a few Southside neighborhoods to be the metropolitan park district because they think that is where most of the wealthy people live. However, there are also low-, middle- and fixed-income households who may end up paying for future acquisitions, or whatever the five commissioners decide to acquire. They may expand boundaries.
Rather than pitting neighbors against each other over what I believe to be an unfair tax hike, city government should find a real solution to the problem they created. They have five years to pay this loan off.