It's Your Money

Jun 21, 2011 4:53 PM by Andy Koen

Parks group drops tax effort for now

Voters will not get to decide whether to raise taxes for parks this fall. The group Great Parks Great Communities officially pulled their request for a ballot initiative at Tuesday's county commissioners meeting.

They had wanted to ask voters for a dedicated sales tax increase of 15 cents on every $100 dollars for parks. The idea was gaining momentum in response to slashed parks budgets that shut off sprinklers, pulled out trash cans and closed restrooms.

However, Trails and Open Space Coalition executive director Susan Davies said there just wasn't the political support necessary to get the initiative through.

"We could not do it without the county elected officials and the city elected officials and it became pretty clear last week that the mayor does not support this initiative."

Mayor Steve Bach said that he wouldn't support the initiative because of his pledge to not raise taxes. He also campaigned on restoring the parks.

Commissioner Sallie Clark said she didn't know how she or the other commissioners would have voted. However, she pointed out that the city would have received the largest share of the money and yet still didn't support the idea.

"If the city doesn't want it, why should the county spend money to put something on the ballot in an off year election," Clark asked.

Davies says they will not petition the issue onto the ballot because they can't guarantee that the money would stay with the parks.

"You can petition to put a sales tax increase on the ballot but you can't determine where that money goes," she said. "So then, what's the point."

She adds that they will try again to get the issue on the ballot in 2012. The also plan to continue working with the city and county to promote a regional approach to parks funding and maintenance.

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