Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Studying Tax Increase for Parks

The direction the County Supervisors took, to further study the issue of how to take care of our parks rather than immediately sign on to the tax increase strategy offered by the Grassroots Working Group—which our organization opposes—is appropriate.

The recent article in the Sacramento Bee opposing further study and encouraging the County Supervisors to immediately accede to the Grassroots Working Groups plan contains its own negation, in that generally, whenever a group stresses immediacy over further study, it’s because they suspect their plan won't stand up to that study, which it won't.

Taxpayers love their parks but realize that increasing taxes so essentially the same strategies can continue, is not just a bad idea, it’s a horrible idea.

The best solutions for the regional parks we’ve seen proposed are those offered by Doug Ose, and for the Parkway in particular we suggest our strategy.

An excerpt from the Bee article.

“Sacramento County's Board of Supervisors and county executive dealt another crushing blow to the operating budget of their Regional Parks system in June. What is the future of parks, trails and open space in this region? Is there a path to stable, secure funding and governance of Regional Parks?

“While city and county park agencies have faced extreme challenges during the four-plus years of the economic downturn, the only governance structure faring well is the special district. Because they receive a set percentage of property taxes, their operating budget fluctuates very little compared with the more than 50 percent cuts facing city and county park agencies. Could special district governance with a secure and stable funding source rescue Sacramento County Regional Parks?

“The groundwork for this shift has already been accomplished. For more than a year, the Grassroots Working Group, an organization of community leaders and park advocates have worked tirelessly and raised private funds to have the Trust for Public Land study options for funding and governance for Sacramento County's regional park system. Polling was also done as a companion to their study. All of this clearly pointed to the recommendation for a ballot measure to create a regional special district for parks and fund the district with a 0.1 of 1 percent sales tax increase….

“Unfortunately, the Board of Supervisors and the county executive want to spend another six months studying various options with community stakeholders, most of whom have been involved in the Grassroots Working Group effort over the past year. New options or "business models" do not exist if this community wants free, accessible, safe, protected, well-managed and commercial-free parks, trails and open space.”