Si View Parks District Hopes Voters Will Keep Its Future Alive

How many of you remember what the valley was like without the Si View Community Center?  I do.  We were taking swim lessons there in 2002 when King County slashed its budget, forcing the closure of its smaller pools – including Si View.  Just like that, to continue swimming, Issaquah was the (forced) choice.  In May 2003, the community rallied behind the mothballed community center and asked voters to create and fund the Si View Metropolitan Parks District (MPD).   Voters approved the 2003 propositions with a 72% approval rate.

So what’s the deal this time you ask?  It has to do with King County taxing districts, declining property value assessments and the taxing limits on those property values.  Washington law says taxes approved without a public vote cannot exceed $5.90 per $1,000 of assessed value.  Assessed property values have fallen in recent years, forcing tax rates to rise to compensate.  Basically, just because my home’s value has decreased by $100,000 since 2008 doesn’t mean my property tax bill has gone down.  Actually the opposite occurred.  My property taxes increased nearly 10% this year.  It boils down to the fact that established levy rates don’t decrease when our home’s assessed value does.  Otherwise hospitals, schools, fire departments couldn’t function at current levels.   So to retain those established levy rates,  each house needs kick in a higher percentage.  Enter the property tax cap.  There is a limit to how high our property taxes can go, and some taxing districts’ funding is protected by state legislation.  Those taxing districts include hospital, schools and fire departments.  Unfortunately, Si View is a junior taxing district and not afforded the same legislative protection.

In 2009 Si View MPD had a buffer of $1 per 1000 of assessed value under the state-mandated property tax cap.  This $1 buffer meant there was still a little room under the property tax cap allowing Si View to collect its .53/1000 of assessed value for the M&O levy that keeps it running.  Unfortunately, because of the recession and declining home values, today that buffer sits at zero.  The needs of the bigger taxing districts have taken King County property taxes to the state-mandated cap; leaving no room (under the limit) for the Si View junior taxing district to collect its voter approved levy funding.  The result is Si View’s funding slashed by 84% – down to .09/1000 of assessed value.  A nine cent levy not enough to keep Si View afloat.

Enter Propositions 1 & 2 on the November 8th King County Ballot.  Proposition 1 protects .25 of Si View’s current levy from automatic reduction.  Proposition 2 is a one-year Maintenance and Operations (M&O) levy that temporarily restores the remaining 19 cents .  The two levies (combined with the .09/ 1000 not being cut) gets Si View’s levy back to its current .53/1000 of value – and running at today’s levels.   Si View reps say neither of the propositions raise taxes.  Rather “both measures preserve existing funding.”   For more information on Proposition 1 & 2 and the possible impacts on Si View’s programming if the measures fail visit siviewpark.org.  If you would like to keep up with the community efforts to save Si View you can like their Facebook page.

Without the two levies, Si View reps say there will be drastic cuts to programming, including closing the pool.   Voters in the Si View Metropolitan Parks District will decide Si View’s fate this November.  The Si View MPD includes the City of North Bend and Fire District 38 in unincorporated King County.  If you have a Snoqualmie address, live outside the city’s limits and are served by Fire District 38, you will also be voting.  This is not just a North Bend issue.  This is a Snoqulamie Valley issue.

Si View MPD also hosts a meeting this Wednesday, October 5th,  at 7PM,  in the Si View Community Center Social Room.   The meeting is for community members interested in learning more about Propositions 1 & 2 and the fate of the historic community center.

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