Voters send county parks a care package



King County’s regional recreation facilities in Federal Way and countywide got a break Tuesday from taxpayers.

A majority of them agreed to place an additional tax on property throughout the county in order to pump up money for operating the county’s parks system. The election results won’t be formally validated until next week, but Proposition 1 was passing with about 55 percent in yes votes in unofficial results.

For months leading up the voting, county officials had warned that because of budget shortages, some parks would have to be closed unless the levy came through.

The new tax will be on the books for four consecutive years at 4.9 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation. It amounts to an additional $12.25 a year for a $250,000 house, for instance.

Officials say the levy revenue will be spent on maintenance and operations of major regional parks and recreation facilities, including Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatics Center in Federal Way, the county fairgrounds, Marymoor Park in Redmond and Cougar Mountain Park. Rural parks also will be supported by the funding, according to officials.

In March, the County Council authorized the ballot measure following recommendations from County Executive Ron Sims and a citizens’ task force.

Councilwoman Carolyn Edmonds, chairwoman of the council's Natural Resources, Parks and Open Space Committee, said the levy’s success was an indication that voters recognize “the value of our park system.”

Slightly over 201,000 votes –– about 19 percent of the 1 million-plus registered voters in the county –– were cast. Election officials had predicted a 38 percent turnout.

Edmonds credited volunteers who “spread the word” in a pro-levy campaign.

Editor Pat Jenkins: 925-5565,

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