Thursday, May 13, 2010

Tax Increase for Parks?

With a lead photo reminding us of the illegal camping problem in the Parkway, this article from the Sacramento Bee reports on the effort to form a special regional park district—requiring the raising of taxes—to fund the parks.

We feel there is a better way to support the American River Parkway—without raising taxes on already over-burdened taxpayers—which is detailed on our website news and strategy pages.

An excerpt from the Bee article.

“To address the threat to regional parks – including the renowned American River Parkway – Sacramento County officials are considering asking voters for a new tax to fund the system.

“In addition, county officials are considering a wholesale reorganization of the parks department – possibly forming a separate district to run the parks.

“The county is grappling with a projected general fund deficit of $166.5 million for the coming fiscal year and may cut the parks department's budget by 40 percent.

“The proposed fixes wouldn't help with budget cuts the Board of Supervisors is set to make in several weeks. Officials are, however, hoping reorganization could provide a long-term solution for the region's parks, which often lose out on funding to mandated social service programs or politically popular agencies such as the Sheriff's Department.

"The current model is not a sustainable model," Paul Hahn, administrator of the county's Municipal Services Agency, told the board at a parks workshop Wednesday. "We need to think differently."

“Nearly 100 parks supporters, many wearing green shirts, filled the chambers Wednesday afternoon to support officials' efforts to find a stable revenue source for the parks and to urge supervisors to keep funding parks until such a source is in place….

“Baker presented three options the parks department is considering. They include forming a new regional parks and open space district; partnering with neighboring cities and districts; or creating a community facilities district.

“The bureaucratic hurdles are slightly different under each scenario, but all would require approval by a two-thirds vote of the public to approve a new tax.”