News

Parks bond likely to be on ballot in November

By Dennis Box, The Courier-Herald

The Bonney Lake City Council has agreed to place a municipal bond on an upcoming ballot, seeking money to implement its parks plan.

The parks plan presented to the Council calls for an additional 47 acres of community parks and 15 acres of neighborhood parks in Bonney Lake.

"The reason its going on the ballot is it's urgently needed," Councilman Neil Johnson said. "If we don't move on this now in three years or so there will be no land for parks. The land around Bonney Lake is going quick. If we don't secure a piece of the pie now for the city there won't be a second chance."

According to Finance Director John Weidenfeller, the Council has requested a bond between $6 and $12 million. An $8.2 million bond has been suggested by Council members as a possible figure with other funds coming from grants and developer impact fees.

"The park board has spent hours and hours looking at everything," Deputy Mayor Dan Swatman said. "They did all the hard work. It's a good plan and anything we can do to increase parks in Bonney Lake helps."

Beside the additional parks, the plan outlines a new community center and seven miles of new trails.

"It hasn't been determined yet whether the bond would pay for just purchasing land or building the parks also," Councilman Mark Hamilton said. "My personal opinion is it will be more readily passed if it is just land. I want a clear message to the public what they're getting."

The community center would likely need its own funding package. The parks plan called for a 20,000 square foot center, but the City Council doubled the size to 40,000.

"We don't know the size yet or the total cost of the community center," Hamilton said. "I want the community center left off. It's not ready to go yet. I don't think the city should be the only one to pay for it. I would like to see a more regional source of funding."

For the municipal bond to go forward the City Council must first pass a resolution to place the bond on the ballot.

The city would then send the resolution to the Elections Division of the Pierce County Auditor where it is placed on a ballot.

The price the city must pay for placing the bond issue on the ballot would be determined by the auditor after the election.

The most likely date for the bond would be the Nov. 2 general election.

"We have a ways to go before we're ready to put this forward," Hamilton said. "There are a lot of what ifs still."

Park impact fees will be another source of revenue. The Council intends to raise the fee from $650 per household in new developments to $1,500.

"Impact fees will only take care of growth," Hamilton said. "I think the number one goal of the bond has to be land."

If passed, the bond would be issued through an underwriter and paid for by property taxes divided among all property owners on assessed values.

"It's always good when voter get to tell us if that's the way we should spend their money," Swatman said. "It's a difficult issue when we're apparently going to spend money building city hall that could be used on parks. So if the voters turn down the parks bond, we have to look at building city hall."

Dennis Box can be reached at dbox@courierherald.com

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