The City Council is engaging in trickery on Proposition 1 without full disclosure to Kirkland residents.
The Washington Constitution specifically protects taxpayers by requiring tax bonds to be approved by at least 60% of the voters. However, cities have the power to issue bonds to pay for a variety of projects, including buildings like an aquatic center, without having to put it to a vote of the citizens if there is already a revenue source in place to pay back the debt. Creation of a metropolitan park district only requires approval of just over 50% of the citizens. Once created, a metropolitan park district has the authority to levy a tax of up to $0.75 per $1000 of assessed value of real and personal property without having to submit it to voters for approval.
The Kirkland City Council has found a clever way to dodge the 60% approval requirement of a bond levy. If it can sell just over 50% of Kirkland voters on its proposed new metropolitan park district, then it can establish a revenue source – at a rate of up to $0.75 per $1000 – and issue bonds without having to convince 60% of the voters to approve them.
What’s wrong with that if Kirkland residents want an ARC and the City has decided this is the best way to fund it? It is a permanent end run around the Washington State Constitutional requirement that bonds be approved by 60% of the voters. It deprives the citizens of Kirkland of their voice in determining what is a reasonable project and appropriate related cost. Furthermore, it provides the City with an ongoing revenue source that allows City Council to issue bonds to cover nearly any other park projects of its choosing without obtaining voter approval.
Keep your voice – vote No on Proposition 1.