Seattle mayor proposes property tax hike to pay for parks, community centers

SEATTLE -- Mayor Ed Murray announced Thursday he is going to send the City Council a proposed parks levy that would be used to repair, maintain and restore basic services at the city's parks, community center and Woodland Park Zoo and Seattle Aquarium.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray giving his first State of the City Address on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014. (Photo: KCPQ-TV/Seattle)

The mayor’s package -- which will be put to a public vote -- would increase the tax homeowners at a rate of about $.42 per $1,000 of assessed value and collect about $54 million a year. It would cost the owner of a $400,000 home in Seattle about $14 a month, or around 50 cents per day. In addition, the park district will be a junior taxing authority with the ability to levy up to $.75 per $1,000 of assessed value of homeowners.

If passed by the council and the approved by the voters, Murray’s proposal would:

-- Fund on average 40 additional parks and community centers maintenance projects each year, including ongoing funding to complete as many as 12 maintenance projects at the Woodland Park Zoo and Seattle Aquarium;

-- Keep community centers open for more hours, provide funding to make upgrades to existing community centers, and leave open the possibility of adding more community centers as the city grows;

-- Expand programming for seniors, people with disabilities and underserved populations;

-- Develop 14 new parks on land already in city ownership; and

-- Provide funding for an urban parks partnership model to promote creative collaborations in downtown to activate parks with a focus on safety.