BONNEY LAKE PARKS PART III: What Voters Could See on the Ballot in 2013

Bonney Lake voters have some options when it comes to paying for future parks projects.

When it comes to funding a future Park District in Bonney Lake, the city has identified one main source – the pocketbooks of its citizens. An estimated $32 million through a voter bond or levy is needed to fulfill the city’s parks plan.

( of our series gives an overview of the city parks plan. examined what that really means for the city, in terms of a recreation center/YMCA, ball fields and Fennel Creek trail development.)

Because the cost of putting a bond on the ballot will cost the city between $15,000 to $20,000 from the general fund alone, the Bonney Lake city council wants citizen feedback on what option is most attractive to voters.

Tell the council what you think at tonight's , 6 p.m. at the

“Existing funding sources are less than 20 percent of what we need to complete the elements of the Park Plan,” said facilities and operations manager Gary Leaf. “We’ve basically come up with three main options for voters.”

The options include:

  • A newly-created Metropolitan Park District, approved by voters.
  • Voter bond, approved by voters
  • A special levy approved by voters
  • New grants (which the city admits are few)


Metropolitan Park District

Voters could approve the creation of a Metropolitan Park District, which would oversee all park plans and make decisions on maintaining parks, trails, recreation facilities and programming. The MPD has the greatest favor with the city council and only requires a simple 50 percent majority to pass, said Leaf. The property tax levy may be used to pay for ongoing facilities and maintenance costs.

The disadvantage of an MPD would be the creation of a new taxing-entity.

The MPD board would be a municipal corporation with city councilmembers serving as board members.

If the city council was to establish itself as the elected board of the park district, a city employee would be designated to run it.

An MPD cannot impose a park fee but the city could collect impact fees on its behalf.

Voted Park Bond

The Voted Park Bond option is similar to how school districts are funded and would only require a one-time cost for specific facilities.

The disadvantage is a 60 percent majority vote is needed to pass it, plus a price cap – the maximum voted bond amount allowed would be $50 million. Plus, a new funding source for ongoing maintenance costs would need to be created.

Special Levy

A Special Levy could be used for capital or ongoing maintenance expenses, but also requires a 60 percent supermajority. This option is used mainly when revenues cannot keep up with ongoing maintenance expenses.

Lauren Padgett May 07, 2012 at 04:12 PM
I grew up in Tacoma and always knew Metro Parks was there. It was a given that there was always a Parks District with planned activities and areas in town that we as kids could drop into and take a class or play outside. It's fascinating to see this process through the early stages -- at some point or another, all large cities have had to make the same decisions about investing in the parks we adore today. There's a lot of value in being part of this process and watching it grow from the ground, up.
BillT May 07, 2012 at 05:21 PM
The work that the PenMet District has done on a portion of the Cushman Trail near Gig Harbor is an  example the City could use in Bonney Lake. They use both public and private money to pay for the trail's expansion.
Fred Jacobsen May 08, 2012 at 08:28 PM
Part 1 of 2 Bonney Lake’s first Park Summit on Monday evening brought out a large and diverse crowd that packed the Justice Center to overflowing numbers. It was not a contentious meeting between opposing factions, but an interested and thoughtful commentary on the community needs for Bonney Lake’s Parks. It was clear from the assembled people that there was more at stake than just a sports complex. People are concerned about a community center or YMCA, ballfields, and trails. What was missing from any proposed funding for park projects was the arts and heritage element from the Cultural Resources Comprehensive Plan. Approved by the city council last December and lumped together with city parks, it was disappointing to see that this was not addressed in the plan for the future. The summer events that have come to be identified with the parks in Bonney Lake are already a part of our city’s cultural resources. We have music, dance, and theater presentations every summer week and these events have become magnets for attracting people outside our city limits as well. This is cultural tourism in action! The recreational needs for residents of all ages and abilities are varied, and funding a plan should not focus exclusively on the desires of any one group.
Fred Jacobsen May 08, 2012 at 08:29 PM
Part 2 of 2: During the Financial breakout session last night, Mr. Scott Anderson nailed it when he said that this has to be a project of the whole. It can’t pit trails against sports complex, or community center/YMCA versus Arts & Cultural Heritage. We need to work on a complete project, one that encompasses all of the elements that were discussed last night and while it may not satisfy everyone in the City, it has to be one that does the most good for the most people. On a final note, the consensus choice from the Financial breakout was that we move forward through creation of a Metropolitan Park District (MPD) with one minor change. Most wanted a Board made up of a mix of elected citizens and City councilmembers, not one dominated by just councilmembers.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »