Election Filings Put Pressure on SK Parks Board

No law exists to address pending elections for a board set to dissolve, county auditor said.

By Chris Henry
South Kitsap
The South Kitsap Parks & Recreation Board of Commissioners will hold what will probably be one of its last few meetings Thursday. At the meeting, they will discuss the second of three steps toward dissolution, well aware that any significant delay in the process could have financial implications for the parks board itself, the county or both.
Parks board chairman Larry Walker has said he’s confident the process will proceed without a hitch, but if the process is not finalized by Aug. 14, the board could be responsible for costs in the upcoming election.

On the board’s upcoming agenda is the matter of a quitclaim deed that would transfer ownership of the South Kitsap Community Park to Kitsap County, as per an agreement signed by the county and the parks board in April. The board discussed the deed at its last meeting and is expected to vote on it Thursday.
Signing the deed is the second in a three-step process toward finalization of the park transfer, which has been under negotiation between the county and the parks board for more than a year. The last step will be the court’s approval of a petition for dissolution, which the parks board must submit within 30 days of signing the quit claim deed.
Although the parks board has already agreed to dissolve, three people have filed for open positions, none of them incumbents. One of the three, Kathryn Simpson, said she filed just in case the current board did not follow through with its promise to turn the park over to the county. Citing Washington State law, Simpson noted in a Kitsap Sun blog that if no one filed and the dissolution did not occur, the incumbents would remain in office.
“Do we really want to leave the South Kitsap community without a choice for these four positions in the November elections if dissolution hasn’t been finalized before then?” she wrote. “I sincerely hope this is a mute (moot) point. But hoping doesn’t always get the job done. A contingency plan is good insurance.”
Simpson, who has long favored county ownership of the park, is a member of a group called Grow the Park,
which has pushed for dissolution of the parks board from the sidelines during negotiations between the parks board and the county.
In July, 2006, the county sued the parks board over past due elections debt, but they offered to dismiss the debt if the board released the park to county ownership. After protracted, often testy negotiations, the two entities came to an agreement in which the debt will be excused and the park preserved as a park in perpetuity.
Now, at least in theory, the parks board could incur even more election debt if the dissolution is not complete by Aug. 14, said Kitsap County Auditor Karen Flynn. That is the deadline set by her office for finalizing voter’s pamphlet and ballots. The estimated cost of the election to the parks board would be $25,000 to $30,000.
Flynn said she is unaware of any precedent for the issue with South Kitsap Parks, where a board in the process of dissolution is scheduled for an upcoming election. No state law exists to address it, and the county prosecutor’s office is hesitant to rule on hypothetical “what if’s” unless they become reality, Flynn said. Because the parks board still exists, her staff is under obligation to proceed just as for any other office, she said.
“Crazy things have happened with that parks district,” Flynn said. “We don’t feel it would be appropriate for us to do anything other than follow the law and allow people to file.”
Dolores Gilmore of the auditor’s office confirmed that — if hypothesis becomes reality — any portion of the election cost that the parks board is unable to pay would fall to the county, which pays the up front cost for any election.
Other people who filed last week for seats on the parks board are Kathleen Brashar and Kris Danielson.

South Kitsap Parks & Recreation Board of Commissioners will hold its monthly business meeting at 6 p.m. at Park Vista Retirement & Assisted Living center, 2944 Lund Ave. in South Kitsap.

2 thoughts on “Election Filings Put Pressure on SK Parks Board

  1. Just letting all those who read “Speaking of Kitsap”, I, too, filed only in case the SKPR Board does not dissolve. I hope that this time they make good their word.
    I have been a Supporter for the SKPR Board to turn the park over to the County all along.
    Let’s hope this happens for the good of all and put this to rest !!!
    If there is a “hitch”, I am prepared to run and THEN dissolve after elections.

  2. Thanks for the follow-up, Chris. Again, I hope the current SKPRD completes dissolution in a timely manner, so that there are no need for November elections (and the associated costs) for the SKPRD.

    Also, thanks for correcting “mute” to “moot”. Unfortunately, I’ve been hit on that one before and will probably be guilty of misusing again. ;=)

    Kathryn Simpson

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