Supporters of the parcel tax for parks, a group calling themselves Petaluma Friends of Recreation, are racing the clock to collect enough signatures to place their initiave on the November ballot.
The group's goal is to raise funding for at least eight separate community projects. These include:
- walking, hiking and biking trails at the Marina, Wiseman trail and Walnut and La Tercera parks,
- installing artificial turf at Prince Park,
- renovating the Polly Klaas Performing Center (currently condemned),
- upgrading East Washington Park, including athletic fields, children's play areas and biking and pedestrian pathways,
- renovating the Petaluma Community Center,
- upgrading the Cavanagh Swim Center and
- repairing the David Yearsley River Heritage Center (off D and Copeland).
If passed, the tax would be applied to property owners, with single family homes paying $52, but owners of multiple residential units paying as much as $400 a year. Hotels and motels would pay $425 a year.
For details of all the projects, check out the ballot initiative on the right
Petaluma Patch asked our readers what they thought of the proposal and got some interesting responses.
"I'm not in favor of volunteering anymore money," said a commenter, who identified herself as Phyllis MC.
"My property taxes are already too high - we are asked to stretch our budget while our officials don't. In fact, they let the good times roll a decade ago and granted fantastic pensions to city employees, government workers, school admins, etc. to the tune of incredible unfunded percentages and we find ourselves screwed now bc we (tax payers) must fulfill those promised."
But Melissa Abercrombie, a planning commissioner and mother of two said improvements to parks and recreation facilities are exactly what needed funding.
"This is exactly what I would like to be taxed for!" Abercrombie said. "Why sit back and complain about the cities deteriorating facilities when we could actually fund repairing and maintaining them?
Other readers were concerned about the oversight of the tax revenues, estimated at $12 million over the next 12 years. Under the proposal, an oversight committee made up of five residents--including at least one from the business community, one involved in youth activities, and a rep from the Petaluma Service Alliance--will control how the money will be spent.
The initiative specifically says that no city employees or elected officials will be on the committee. Yet, distrust of City Hall runs high.
"I don't trust the money will be spent as claimed," said Patch reader Sadie. "If you want my support, make the tax 12 dollars for 5 years. That will get you millions to spend properly or waste. If the money is spent wisely, then renew the tax, and get more done."
Do you support the parks and rec parcel tax? Vote in our poll below!