We have come together as people who have dedicated much of our lives to serving the city of Kirkland. We love Kirkland and want what is best for it every bit as much as our current City Council members.
We are adamantly opposed to Proposition No. 1 to create a Municipal Park District (MPD) for an Aquatics and Recreation Center (ARC). We are also very disappointed in the deceptive campaign being waged to convince voters that this vote is simply about the need for an aquatics center in Kirkland. The City Council is asking for a blank check.
In his support of Proposition No. 1, Larry Springer cites "enormous cost savings to taxpayers by forming a park district versus using the traditional bond," and says that he does not want our city spending $20 million to buy land before we even know if the voters would approve the spending plan. There are options to fund an aquatic center that would not require buying land in advance or risking millions of taxpayer dollars just to put it to a vote.
Instead, we are being asked to authorize spending for an ARC without any certainty of where it will be, what it will be, and how much it will cost. We are being asked to trust this City Council and all future City Councils that they will not abuse this power to increase our property taxes. There is no need for voters to give up our voice on future parks projects and the associated taxes by agreeing to the park district.
Springer suggests the possibility of partnering with neighboring jurisdictions like Redmond, Bellevue and the Lake Washington School District. He should know that they have all rejected being partners with Kirkland for an aquatics center. Conversely, there are many examples of successful partnerships with the YMCA that have been funded with traditional bonds.
Perhaps Springer's most misleading statement is that Proposition No. 1 gives no more "blank check" authority to the City Council than they have for funding fire, police, roads and environmental stewardship. The city funds those essential activities through the general fund. Parks capital projects are "nice to have" discretionary expenditures that have traditionally been funded by voter approved bonds and levies. We deserve to know specifically what we are getting and what we will be required to pay for discretionary parks projects. Proposition No. 1 gives our City Council a blank check for any kind of aquatics facility that they choose, and any other parks expenditures forevermore.
The ARC supporters want us to believe that Proposition No. 1 is all about the ARC. The truth is that Proposition No. 1 is about creating a new separate tax district that can increase our property taxes by up to $.75 per $1,000 assessed value without needing to get voter approval -- $450 per year for a $600,000 house.
Proposition No. 1 circumvents the time-tested practice of voter-approved bonds by granting the City Council carte blanche control over all parks project decisions without voter approval. This tax scheme will last forever and cannot be terminated by voters.
We urge you to vote against Proposition 1.