City looking for Metropolitan Park District Exploratory Committee members

A reminder that the Edmonds City Council is looking for community members willing to serve on a Metropolitan Park District Exploratory Committee.

The commitee, which will be led by Councilmember Frank Yamamoto with support from Councilmember Diane Buckshnis, will be charged with gathering information about the pros and cons of forming a Metropolitan Park District, re-examining needs and priorities of the Edmonds Parks and Recreation system, developing public outreach strategies such as citizen surveys and town hall meetings, and preparing recommendations for Council consideration.

The committee will meet during May and June, and will make a recommendation to City Council in July 2012. If the City Council were to consider placing this on the November ballot, a ballot measure would need to be filed in August.

The first two Exploratory Committee meetings have been scheduled for May 7 and 23 from 6-8 p.m. in the second floor Edmonds Library Plaza Room (650 Main Street); the public is welcome to attend.

Anyone interested in serving on the committee can apply on the city’s website or pick up an application at City Hall or the Frances Anderson Center. For more information, contact Carrie Hite, Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Services Director, at carrie.hite@ci.edmonds.wa.us, or 425-771-0230.

 

 

one possible tool that could help balance the budget, and secure dedicated funding for the much loved flower baskets, Yost pool, recreation programs, Senior Center, and parks among other areas.
A Metropolitan Park District can be formed for the management, control, improvement, maintenance, and acquisition of parks, parkways, and recreational facilities.    If formed as a Citywide MPD, a City Council serves as the governing body. First, an MPD must be voter approved and pass with a simple majority. MPDs allow jurisdictions to levy up to $.75 per $1,000 assessed value. At the maximum levy rate, this would cost a homeowner, with an average home value of $350,000, approximately $21 per month.
The Parks budget has been struggling since 2009. This can be evidenced by declining Parks Capital improvement fund and fund balances as a result of decreasing Real Estate Excise Tax (REET) and the Cemetery funds.    For example, in 2006-2009, the average annual REET revenue was $3.5 Million. In 2010-2011, the average was $500,000. This reduction in revenue has resulted in an unprecedented drop in ongoing maintenance levels of our parks system. The City has responded in a number of ways to balance the budget such as increasing revenue options, including non-resident fees, concessions in parks; renegotiating instructor contracts; hiring
less seasonal staff; and relying on residents to help with Parks projects. Despite these efforts, residents may experience parks that are less attractive, and there is increasing concern that the impacts of deferring maintenance will soon become more visible and in the long run, more costly to address.
As the City faces a projected deficit in 2013, there is little to cut within the Parks and Recreation budget without impacting service levels. Providing a dedicated fund for Parks, similar to what’s been created in Bainbridge Island, Des Moines, Tacoma, Pullman, etc., would help maintain the same service level citizen’s currently enjoy, while alleviating some of the burden on the City’s general fund. This would also help curb service level cuts in parks as well as other areas, such as police and public works.
There are exciting opportunities that could be explored with the formation of an MPD. The City’s previous feasibility study for an expanded aquatic complex at Yost pool is of high interest in the community. Discussions with the School District in regard to adding soccer fields at old Woodway High School, and the renovation of Civic Stadium are also starting to gain interest. The City is conducting a feasibility study on next steps to rehabilitate Edmonds Marsh. In addition, the city’s long partnership with the Senior Center could benefit with increased funding for much needed capital needs.
The City Council has decided to form an MPD Exploratory Committee which will be led by Councilmember Frank Yamamoto with support from Councilmember Diane Buckshnis. The Committee will be charged with gathering information about the pros and cons of forming a Metropolitan Park District; re-examining needs and priorities of the Edmonds Parks and Recreation system; developing public outreach strategies such as citizen surveys and town hall meetings; and preparing recommendations for Council consideration.
The Committee will meet during the months of May and June, and will make a recommendation to City Council in July, 2012. If the City Council were to consider placing this on the November ballot, a ballot measure would need to be filed in August.
The first two meetings for the MPD Exploratory Committee have been scheduled for May 7 and 23 from 6:00- 8:00 p.m. in the 2nd floor Edmonds Library Plaza Room (650 Main Street); the public is welcome to attend.
If anyone is interested in serving on the committee, there is an application on the city’s website www.edmondswa.gov , or for pick-up at City Hall or the Frances Anderson Center. For further information, please contact Carrie Hite, Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Services Director, at carrie.hite@ci.edmonds.wa.us, or 425-771-0230.

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2 Comments

  1. Why would any citizen serve on any City Commtt. My experience with these has been that citizens spend a ton of time coming up with recommendations that the City Government proceeds to ignore and then hire a PAID consultant that provides similar recommendations.

  2. Hi Pryia, Your experience and mine on City committees is different and I would like to share some views about what I have learned. My first experience started 6 years ago by joining the Citizens Technology Advisory Committee (CTAC). Over those 6 years more than 30 citizens have given of their time to explore technology issues given to us by Council. CTAC has for example developed and implemented the Edmonds fiber optic network. This network is currently “profitable” by normal business standards and by City accounting methods it is on course to fully pay all the investment costs and return money to the general fund. Additionally the Performing Arts Center has been wired and a couple of major downtown businesses are using the service for their day to day work. Recently more than 1500 people viewed presentations on the internet that originated from the Arts Center. CTAC was instrumental in making all this happen and my experience was their input was listened to and acted upon by Council and the administration. In fact Mayor Earling has become one of our best salesman when it comes to promoting the service. CTAC is an example of a citizens group provide sound advice that the City is using.

    My second experience is with the Economic Development Commission (EDC). More than 20 citizens have worked long and hard and the Council has extended the Commission on 3 occasions to help the city work on Economic Development issues. This group has added labored hard and our inputs have been taken seriously by Council and Staff. You can look on the city web site to see some of the things we have done and are working on. Again this experience has been useful for the city and much of the EDC’s work has been acted upon by Council and the administration.

    My third experience was with the 2010 Levy committee. This was an exciting adventure that culminated with reports to Council and the administration that helped detail the current financial issues. The recommendations by the 2010 Levy committee were similar in scope to the recommendations of made by a 8 teams of citizens made up of more than 60 citizens. The PAST Council and the Past administration did not move forward with the committee’s recommendations, NOR did they hire a consultant to counter or support the recommendations either. So this 3rd example while not yet successful it did not follow your stated experience. Happily the NEW Council and the New administration seem to be working on some of the issues pointed out by these citizens groups. No consultants so far, just citizen input.

    There are 40,000 of us in Edmonds who all share this wonderful place and in addition to voting and blogging and enjoying our community, some of us like to donate our time and energy to helping the city move forward. While you imply that the volunteers may be just wasting our time, my experience does not reach the same verdict. I will continue to volunteer my time when I think I can help. I hope more will do the same. Edmonds will be a better place because of it.

    As an attorney, you are trained to look at the evidence and prove your case. I would be happy to meet with you and share other examples of how citizen involvement is working in our community. I will even buy the coffee.

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