Letters: Peace Park and libraries

Apr 04, 2018

Editor’s Note: In regards to one part of the following letter: the land value for the Byers property is $500,000, but the land was donated to the city for the purpose of the Peace Park and was not purchased by the city. The line where it says, “the total proposed commitment to the park development is $900k” can make it seem like the city also spent an additional $500,000, which isn’t the case.

Ms. Morrison in an additional email said, “The development commitment for this Peace Park includes both money and land- that total value is $900k, which means those resources are not dedicated to another purpose, group or neighborhood.”

 

Peace Park project: How $40k became $400k-plus

 

If you read the March 21 Beacon article “City Council approves plan for Peace Park,” you know that the Mukilteo City Council unanimously voted a limit of $90,000 for a special “Peace Park.” This is the combined amount designated in the previous 2016 and 2017 city budgets.

That decision was unsatisfactory to Mayor Gregerson who advocated for another park plan at a higher cost, so the mayor strategized a creative remedy around the council’s decision - and it wasn’t private fund-raising.

Early this year, Mayor Gregerson used her influence with State Senator Marko Liias, asking him to earmark state funds for an expanded Peace Park plan preferred by herself and the Kamiak community, which he also identifies with. He engaged.

On his own authority, Senator Liias vacated the $721k city council grant application for the Japanese Gulch Project and split the grant between two new designees: $400k for the mayor’s preferred Peace Park project and $321k toward the future library in the Mariner community.

The revised Mukilteo grants were passed in the State Budget on March 3 - the council was notified on March 5.

This money cannot be used for anything else, nor will it be returned.

The true taxpayer funding for the park project is now $400,000. Happy news for the mayor.

Additionally, the land value of the Byers property chosen for the Peace Park is approximately $500k so the total proposed commitment to the park development is actually $900k.

It should also be noted that this Peace Park has always been intended as a memorial to three dead Kamiak students, and the Kamiak community itself, to rebuke the gun violence they experienced in 2016.

To the public, the park is being presented as a place for all to reflect and find solace, but it is undeniably Kamiak’s park.

The price of this park is more than money - it is reputations.

What the mayor and the Senator did was wrong, that’s why the money switch was done in secret.

The city council should see a big red flag in this episode. It cannot become precedent for future decision making among city officials.

If the mayor is allowed to disregard the decisions of the council, the council is irrelevant and favoritism will again determine policy.

The future of Mukilteo will depend on the backbone of this city council. We need to hear from them - loud, clear and soon.

 

Patricia Morrison

Mukilteo

Support for our libraries

 

We have so much to be proud of in our neck of the woods, not the least of which is our award-winning Sno-Isle Libraries.

Our libraries provide a huge collection of books, e-books, movies, journals, magazines and, best of all, librarians who help us sort through the onslaught of information, who help us fill out forms, apply for jobs, apply to college, who bring stories to the babies and activities to the teens.

Our libraries are meeting places and sponsors of important discussions on issues critical to our communities. Our libraries support civility and reason by providing forums for discussion, by vetting information and making solid information available to all of us.

Our libraries are funded almost entirely (98 percent) by revenue from a property tax, and on April 24, voters will decide whether to restore the levy level to 47 cents per $1,000 of assessed value or to force the libraries to make cuts to the hours, to the collections, to the activities we love.

I’m going to attend one of these open houses, where knowledgeable staff will help us understand the issues at hand. I want to know how it works and we all deserve good information.

 

·       April 11, Lynnwood Library or Marysville Library, 6-7 p.m.

·       April 12, Mukilteo Library or Stanwood Library, 6-7 p.m.

·       April 14, Snohomish Library or Lakewood/Smokey Point Library 10:30-11:30 a.m.

 

And then I’m voting YES. I urge you to join me.

 

Susan Kostick

Edmonds

 

Don't drink the Kool-Aid

 

Do we need a Sno-Isle Library levy increase?  WA spends more per person for public libraries than 44 other states.  Sno-Isle is very near the WA state average for spending per person.  Not a bad thing.  Property tax revenue for the library went up steadily from $28.8 million in 2008 to $41.4 million in 2017, up 44 percent.   Spending on salaries and benefits went up 63 percent.  Both are pretty steep considering inflation for 10 years has been 18 percent and the population increase for our two counties has been 15 percent.

Ok, so we spend a lot.  Is the library going broke?  Unrestricted reserves have increased from $9 million in 2008 to $21 million at the end of 2017.  Looks like we used the windfall from the last tax hike to build up reserves and jack up staffing and wages until we outran the revenue.  Property tax revenue for the library is expected to increase by 2 percent for 2018 without the levy increase.  The salary and benefit increase proposed for 2018 is up 5.6 percent and we are spending $2 million on advertising to sell the levy increase to the voters.  The proposed levy increase is not a small thing.  If my math is right, the increase in the rate is over 20 percent and that means an additional $8 million every year.

The library board strategy seems to focus on a large levy for big reserves and unrestrained spending.  Levy increases result in more costly housing (property taxes and rent).  I would rather see current spending be more in line with current revenue and then show me exactly what a levy increase would be spent on.  Some of us don't respond well to the threats of reduced services.  I vote no.

 

Jim Grounds

Oak Harbor

Comments (1)
Posted by: Charlie Pancerzewski | Apr 05, 2018 03:05

The Byers property was not donated to the City for the Peace Park. The property was donated long before the three students were killed. The property was donated to be used as a park as the Byers family thought their father would like to have his long time residence be remembered for their father and his love for living at that spot. The City did not do any advance planning about how the land would ultimately be used as the Council said the City did not have another park in its plans and priorities nor did the City have money to spend on developing a park at that time. Some on the Council were not in favor of accepting this property as a gift as the City already has many parks forth of 6th Street and parks cost money to maintain, forever.



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