Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Long Overdue

Is the operative phrase here, and while we continue our support of the Joint Powers Authority concept, we feel Parkway planning needs to go farther and also embrace the concept of turning daily management of the Parkway—while leaving ownership in public hands—to a nonprofit organization (as has been done with the Sacramento Zoo) to take advantage of dedicated management for the Parkway, also long overdue.

We are not in agreement with increasing taxes with the already existing record of poor use of public funding to this point, so severe that the Parkway was threatened with closure in 2004, and widespread illegal camping has been allowed to virtually destroy the use of the Woodlake, North Sacramento & Cal Expo areas of the Parkway by the adjacent community.

Parks and green space are suffering in many regions from lack of funding and the innovation of partnering with nonprofits (Central Park Conservancy in New York as a prime example) to provide management and an increased funding capability through the non-coercive method of private philanthropy, rather than the coercive one of taxes, has proven to be very successful and should be implemented here.

Editorial: Parkway politics
County must search for money and allies
Published 12:00 am PDT Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Sacramento County is taking long-overdue steps to figure out how to adequately fund the crown jewel of the region, the American River Parkway. A survey reports potential willingness of some residents near the river to tax themselves. Meanwhile, a group of leaders from Sacramento County, Rancho Cordova and the city of Sacramento are working on a proposed solution.

Any proposal for a tax better surface from a united front, not a divided one. And bet on it to prescribe a different way of governing the parkway.

At the moment, Sacramento County is financially responsible for maintaining the parkway, even though long stretches border Rancho Cordova and the city of Sacramento. Financially, that's arguably unfair. Yet so is the political status quo.

Neither Rancho Cordova nor Sacramento has a direct say in how the parkway is maintained. Why should a Rancho Cordova resident pay some new property assessment to maintain the American River Parkway if none of its city leaders can ensure that the funds are wisely spent?

Sacramento County didn't exactly throw its support to the creation of Rancho Cordova, Elk Grove or Citrus Heights. It maintains it can provide services just as well as a city. But the situation along the parkway is a monument to the county's money problems. The county's own study reveals a need for $10 million in additional funds a year to provide adequate ranger services and patch up the parking lots and roadways.

What's a source for the money? For starters, the county should explore the creation of a joint powers authority with Rancho Cordova and Sacramento for responsibilities of maintaining parkway. To join, each jurisdiction should legally commit to a stream of funding. And then any proposal for a tax should be for monies above and beyond what the existing governments can afford to pay. (A county park tax should not be used to help the county out of its budget problems.)