Parks levy needs supermajority to pass

Come November 7, voters in Blaine and Birch Bay will vote on the renewal of the levy that funds Blaine-Birch Bay Parks and Recreation District 2 (BBBPRD) staffing, operations, maintenance and capital improvements.

If approved, the measure renews an existing tax levy of 10 cents per $1,000 of assessed home value for the next six years – that’s $25 per year on a house with a $250,000 assessed value. The term of the levy has been increased from four to six years.

In order to pass, the levy requires a minimum turnout of 40 percent of the last general election, or 3,441 voters, and a super majority vote of 60 percent voting in favor.

Writing in favor of the levy is BBBPRD director Ted Morris; there was no opponent available.

Ted Morris, director of Blaine-Birch Bay Park and Recreation District 2
Q: In 2013, voters approved a property tax levy to fund Blaine-Birch Bay Park and Recreation District 2 operations such as staffing, maintenance and capital improvements. Why is the renewal of this levy important to the park district?

A: The 2013 levy was a four-year levy. We are asking for continued support of the park district in our efforts to bring both outdoor and indoor recreational opportunities to our residents. This levy is one of the lowest amounts in Whatcom County at 10 cents per thousand. That equals out to $20 a year for a house assessed at $200,000. Continued funding allows the park district to offer programs and help fund community projects such as trails, the pavilion at the Boys and Girls Club and playgrounds.

Q: How has the parks district utilized the levy funding in the past?

A: Our operating levy funds all aspects of the park district: programs, community project funding assistance and staffing. We currently have only one full-time position and two part-time positions. The commissioners and my position as director are volunteer positions. The partnerships we have with the city of Blaine, Whatcom County Parks, Whatcom Land Trust and other groups allow us to stretch our tax dollars. We have partnered to install three playgrounds, a kayak launch, walking/biking trails, exercise equipment at the senior center, the pavilion and pickle ball courts. Our exercise and other programs serve hundreds of people each month.

Q: Why is the park district pursuing a six-year levy as opposed to a four-year levy?

A: A six-year levy saves the park district and our taxpayers money as Whatcom County charges thousands of dollars for the cost of the levy ballot. Having a funding source over six years also provides more stability for our community project funding especially for the larger capital projects like hiking/biking trails.

Q: How does the park district intend to use the funding? What projects or initiatives are on the horizon?

A: A hiking/biking trail between Birch Bay and Blaine is a high priority and a project we have been working on for years. In partnership with Whatcom Land Trust, we plan to manage an 11–acre parcel of property at the mouth of California Creek. It is on our trail route, and we anticipate developing a small parking lot, restroom, interpretive trail and kayak launch. We would like to improve our pickle ball courts, help with the Portal Way trail in Blaine and continue our funding assistance for other community projects.

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