Park district to seek tax funds in November | September 12, 2008 | Danville Express | |

Danville Express

Newsfront - September 12, 2008

Park district to seek tax funds in November

Town Council gets introduction to Measure WW

by Geoff Gillette

Members of the East Bay Regional Park District presented their plan last week for a ballot initiative in November that will generate half a billion dollars in revenues over the next 20 years.

Beverly Lane, who sits on the Board of Directors for the EBRPD, outlined the plan for members of the Danville Town Council at its Sept. 2 meeting. Lane said the initiative would not be creating a new tax, but would instead be an extension of a bond issue that runs out this year.

"We are doing it this year in part because it's a general election, but also because the funds have been spent," Lane said.

The initiative, called Measure WW, would be an extension of Measure AA, passed in 1988. Lane said that bond helped to preserve 34,000 acres of open space, develop more than 100 miles of new trails, and fund local parks and recreation projects.

Lane said that one of the things the board is trying to do with the plan is to limit the impact on taxpayers.

"We are committed to not changing the tax rate from the last 20 years," she explained.

Of the $500 million being sought on the bond issue, 75 percent would go toward regional parks. The remainder would be used as a grant to local cities.

"When Danville received their funds in 1988, they received over $99,000," Lane said.

Those funds were used to improve Hap Magee Ranch Park as well as Green Valley Elementary School.

Council members were supportive of the plan but had questions.

"In the Danville area specifically, what park district projects will be worked?" asked Councilman Mike Shimansky.

Lane said that work would be done on Las Trampas and Sycamore Valley. Councilwoman Karen Stepper asked about the Elworthy Property; 232 acres of the property has been donated to the EBRPD for use in adding to the Las Trampas hiking area. Lane said that is one of the projects the board is considering for improvements.

The original bond brought in just under $100,000. Lane said that with the growth of population in the last 20 years, residents will see a much larger grant without seeing a corresponding increase in taxes.

"Because Danville has grown, the amount that would come to Danville is close to $2 million." She added, "I wanted to tell you about it and give you the chance to ask questions and to let you know I'd be interested in your support."

Council members seemed ready to give that support. Councilman Newell Arnerich asked if the issue of putting their support behind the measure would be an agenda item.

Stepper said that while she plans to give her support to the measure she isn't certain it should be something the council should take a stand on.

"Personally, I prefer that we do it on an individual basis," she said.

After a brief discussion, the council decided to bring the topic back in two weeks as an agenda item.