Bainbridge park levy passes

Bainbridge voters on Tuesday approved a tax increase that will put almost $1 million a year toward new parks and open space preservation.

The Bainbridge Island Metropolitan Park and Recreation District’s levy lid lift, which would pay for the acquisition and maintenance of new parklands, was approved with over 54 percent of the vote, according to election results released by the Kitsap County Auditor on Tuesday night.

“I’m so happy,” said Barb Trafton, co-chair of the pro-levy Bainbridge People for Parks. “It’s a very difficult environment now (for a levy lid lift) with the economy looking the way it does, but Bainbridge Island historically supports its parks, its environment and facilities to support our youth.”

Almost 5,200 of 9,590 votes cast were in support of the levy lid lift.

The levy will raise the district’s tax levy from the current 58 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value to 75 cents in 2009. For a median-priced $600,000 Bainbridge Island home, the increase would amount to $102 per year.

The measure is expected to generate $1.1 million to $1.2 million in additional revenues for the district.

About 75 percent of the revenue will go toward the purchase and development of new parks and preserved open space.

The remaining 25 percent will fund the maintenance and operation of park properties.

Opponents of the measure argued that the island already has enough parks, that the tax increase will burden residents in a souring economy and that some of the money may pay for artificial turf fields, which some believe harms the environment.

Levy opponent Chris Van Dyk said island residents’ concerns over turf fields held the levy back from a runaway victory.

“It dampened the positive results,” he said.

Van Dyk also blamed lackluster opposition campaigning for the levy’s success.

“We literally did not campaign on the ‘no’ side,” he said.