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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a park district?

State law (Chapter 35.61 Revised Code of Washington) authorizes local communities to create a park district (also called a metropolitan park district), with special taxing authority to manage, control, improve, maintain and acquire of parks, boulevards, and recreational facilities.

What are the Seattle Park District's boundaries?

The boundaries of the Seattle Park District are the same as the boundaries of the City of Seattle, as they currently exist or as they may exist following future annexations.

Who will govern the Park District?

The Seattle City Council will be the Seattle Park District governing board.

What services will be supported by Seattle Park District funds?

The Seattle City Council approved a list of services to be provided by the Seattle Parks and Recreation Department (Parks) on behalf of the Park District. The services include maintaining parklands and facilities, operating community centers and recreation programs, and developing new neighborhood parks on previously acquired sites. The full list of services can be found in the interlocal agreement authorized by Ordinance 124468.

What is the relationship between the Seattle Park District and the City of Seattle?

The City of Seattle and the Seattle Park District are separate local governments with the same boundaries. The City of Seattle has approved an interlocal agreement with the Park District that describes how the Seattle Parks and Recreation Department will provide services with Park District funds. One hundred percent of the District's funds will be used to pay the City for park and recreation services.  Approval of the interlocal agreement by the Seattle Park District Board (the Seattle City Council acting in an ex-officio capacity) is expected at the Board's first meeting.

Who will provide oversight on how Parks spends taxpayer dollars?

The interlocal agreement will require Parks to form a Community Oversight Committee to provide advice and oversight for Park District services. The Oversight Committee shall have 15 members: 4 Park Board members; 7 members, one from each Council district; and 4 additional members to be considered for appointment based on recommendations from City commissions. The City will seek Oversight Committee members with a diversity of expertise and perspectives including but not limited to parks management, public financing, urban horticulture, landscape architecture, contract management, and the interests of low-income and communities of color. Recruitment for Oversight Committee members will be conducted in Fall 2014.

Who will own the open space and park facilities?

Park and recreation land, facilities, and equipment preserved and maintained with Park District funds are and will remain the property of the City of Seattle. Any new or replacement land, facilities, and equipment created or developed with Park District funds will become the property of the City of Seattle.

Who will decide Parks' annual budget?

The Mayor will direct the development and implementation of Parks' budgets and work programs. City Council will approve Parks' budgets and provide oversight. The District Board would approve a final Park District budget showing how Park District revenues would fund part of the Parks' budget.

How will projects be added in the future?

Parks will conduct a community-oriented process to determine spending priorities every 6 years through the life of the Park District. The District Board, after considering the recommendations from the public process and the Community Oversight Committee, would determine the spending levels and updated projects, programs and services to fund for years 7 through 12 as part of the 2021 budget process. This process of adjusting the spending levels (with annual inflation adjustments) and a revised list of projects would continue for the life of the Park District.

Is there a ramp-up period for the Park District?

2015 would be used as a ramp-up period. Park District funds will not be collected until 2016. During 2015 Parks will establish performance measures, develop processes for allocating funds to other organizations where called for, ramp up hiring, and establish an automated asset management system.

What would the tax rate be with the Park District?

For the first year of tax collection (2016), the Park District intends to collect $47.8 million to fund the Investment Initiatives listed in the interlocal agreement. If the park district had been in effect in 2014, the amount would translate into an estimated tax rate of $0.33 per $1,000 of the value of assessed property. This would be a $145 yearly assessment for the owner of a house valued at $440,000.

Is there a limit to how much the Park District can collect?

Under State law, the Park District could ultimately collect up to 75 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. To collect more than 75 cents per $1,000 requires an election in which voter turnout is at least 40% of the turnout in the last general election and 60% of those voters approve the higher rate.