Opinion

THE PLATEAU AND THE VALLEY BELOW: Big changes ahead for Pierce County parks funding and transit

I think most people would agree that access to clean, safe public parks is a huge benefit to any community.

With summer quickly coming to an end, many of you can look back with fond memories of a day at the lake, or a picnic with the family at one of our state, county or city parks.

On a county level, we have been fortunate to keep open and maintain our county parks, despite dwindling tax revenues over the last few years. However, the deferred maintenance to current parks is backing up, and there is demand for new parks as the population increases.

Not satisfied with the two obvious solutions (close parks, or raise taxes/fees), I decided to look outside the box. I did some research and found that throughout the country, many counties have had tremendous success supplementing their parks budgets by creating a "Parks Foundation."

A parks foundation is not a new government program and does not rely on tax dollars. It is a private 501 c-3, non-profit organization created specifically to supplement the needs of the parks department. It can raise private donations through memberships, individual/corporate donors, and grants.

In addition to raising dollars, the foundation can raise people capital (volunteers), to help offset maintenance costs.

I am currently leading the effort to create our own Parks Foundation here in Pierce County. Of course, what will ultimately make this effort successful is the involvement and support of the thousands of citizens throughout Pierce County, so please contact my office if you are interested in this issue! Together we can make a difference.

 

Pierce Transit Service ending. Now what?

You may have noticed the plastic bags covering the bus stop signs throughout East Pierce County, stating that as of this past Sunday, services will be eliminated.

To remind you, earlier this year Pierce Transit made the decision to eliminate many bus routes (including most of East Pierce County), citing declining sales tax revenues.

Losing our bus service is quite a blow, but adding insult to injury is the fact that we are still paying the tax to fund Pierce Transit!

I am currently working with attorneys, the mayors of small cities and Pierce Transit on a process to redraw taxing boundaries. This process will probably take six months to a year.

While this process is in the works, I will be working on the second problem – providing public transportation services in our communities. There are a number of successful public transportation models out there, and I am hopeful that we can find a workable solution as quickly as possible.

As always, I welcome your questions and comments. Please contact me by email at droach@co.pierce.wa.us, or by phone at 253-798-3635.

Note: If you are interested in receiving periodic updates on important issues in Pierce County, please let me know and I will add you to my email newsletter. I have found that this is the cheapest and most effective way to stay connected.

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