The Key Pen Parks levy received 53 percent of the votes cast, but fell short of the 60 percent required to pass.
When the park commissioners voted in June to place the park property tax levy on the November general election ballot, the income forecast was dismal. Sales tax receipts and property tax receipts were still falling, and higher priority municipal governments were taking all the taxes collected, with a forecast that Key Pen Parks would stop receiving any tax revenues by sometime in 2014.
The economy has started to recover. Home values have increased a bit in all areas of Pierce County except the Key Peninsula, which still dropped 1.5 percent in 2013. Sales tax receipts and property tax receipts have finally stopped falling and have actually increased some, according to Scott Gallacher, the Key Pen Parks director.
Pierce County just released its 2014 budget.
“The numbers now show that KP Parks can survive 2014, and keep our parks open and clean without the help from the recent levy that failed,” Gallacher said. “The pinch will not hit us now until 2015. By then, we hope the economy will recover further, to provide even more relief.”
The district just approved its budget for 2014. “There is no money for any construction, but there is $75,000 for planning the intersection project for the entrance to Gateway Park along SR-302,” Gallacher said. “Capital improvement cost for this project will take $750,000 in 2015, and another $250,000 in 2016.”
He said the Gateway Park is the district’s highest priority for developing the parks they care for.
“We cannot develop it until after we construct access from SR-302 that meets the required standards. The $1 million cost is non-negotiable. That’s what it costs today,” he said.
Gallacher said the project is important not only for the park but for future parking and access to 360 Trails park.
The Key Pen Parks budget for 2014 cites total expenses at $789,142.
Besides the costs of maintaining what they currently have, the only other budget item for any improvements over the next couple of years is a small sum for planning the KP Trails System.
“Key Pen Parks thanks the voters of the Key Peninsula for their support of the levy. Even though the levy did not pass as it needed 60 percent, we are grateful for the 53 percent who voted yes,” Gallacher said.