I have decided to oppose Kirkland Proposition 1 - not because it’s a bad idea, but because the formation of a Metropolitan Park District to fund it simply creates a new and powerful layer of government with taxing authority.
Here’s my line of reasoning:
• The Juanita HS pool is closing. That’s unfortunate, but the closure really impacts only the few regular users of that pool.
• A new pool would be nice to have, but who should pay to build it, and how many will use it?
• There are too few swimmers in Kirkland for them to be able to pay for a new pool without non-swimmer support.
• So the swimmers asked the City to pay for it
• But there’s too little interest in Kirkland to pass a ballot measure to build just a pool, even at a reasonable price.
• So the City decided to broaden the appeal of the project by expanding it to a complete “Recreation Center” including a gym, restaurant, meeting rooms, a place for weddings, etc.
• This more than tripled the cost of the project.
• Kirkland citizens told the City “This new project will get used by people from all over the area. Others should help pay for it."
• So the City proposed a Metropolitan Park District (MPD) that would have taxing authority over a broader region and asked neighboring cities to help.
• They all declined to participate.
• Now the City proposes via Proposition 1 to form the MPD anyway.
• It’s borders? The City of Kirkland.
Proposition 1 is not about building a pool. It’s not about parks. It’s not even about taxes.
It’s about a new layer of government with taxing authority.
This is an end run that is disingenuous if not deceitful. If Kirkland voters won’t approve taxes for a pool (and other cities won’t join us to build a larger regional project), why should we now create a new and separate taxing district with the power to levy new taxes on a bigger project - and who knows how many new taxes for more projects in the future?