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Commission votes to put park district measure on ballot

Shelton-Mason County Journal of Shelton, Washington

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Mason County voters will cast ballots in the Nov. 8 general election on establishing a Mason County Metropolitan Park District.

The Mason County Commission on Tuesday voted 2-1 to place the measure before voters. If passed, property owners will be assessed 20 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation to create a district to "maintain and expand youth and senior recreation programs; maintain, construct and improve parks and hiking, biking and riding trails; and provide access to rivers, beaches and shorelines."

If established, the parks district would be governed by a five-member board of at-large members.

The county has an assessed valuation of more than $6 billion this year, which means a county-wide parks district would have about $1.2 million in funds per year, said Frank Pinter, the county's interim director of support services.

Commissioners Randy Neatherlin and Terri Jeffreys voted to place the measure on the Nov. 8 ballot.

"This is not an action to create a parks district," Neatherlin said. "I've always said I'm not in favor of taxing — I'm not one of those guys — but I will not deny people the right to burden themselves."

The Mason County Parks and Trails Citizens Advisory Board has been advocating for establishing the district.

"It's their job to sell it or to lose it," Neatherlin said. "If the public decides it does not want it, then that's what the public wants."

Jeffreys praised the vision and passion of the members of the Mason Comity Parks and Trails Citizens Advisory Board.

A robust regional trails system could be an economic boon, she said.

Commissioner Tim Sheldon voted against placing the matter before the voters.

Sheldon said a board of at-large members, instead of five people representing different districts, could lead to one neighborhood electing all five commissioners.

"I believe parks are a very local issue for the citizens," he said.

Sheldon said residents don't understand the ramifications of establishing a metropolitan parks district.

Copyright 2016 Shelton-Mason County Journal, Shelton, Washington. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: July 21, 2016

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