Would a park district work in Yakima?

Would a park district work in Yakima? »Play Video
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YAKIMA, Wash. -- Higher property taxes to pay for Yakima's parks.It could be a choice you have make. First, Yakima leaders are weighing in on the issue.

Open space for kids to play, a lunch break and stroll on a sunny day. It's what city parks are for. But as costs to maintain them go up, the money stream is going down.

"We have been going backwards and everybody knows that," said Parks and Recreation Director, Ken Wilkinson.

Backwards to the tune of $400,000 in the last few years. It's why the Yakima Parks Department is looking for ways to reverse that.

Yakima leaders poured over pages of information Monday on a potential parks district in Yakima. It's a way to separate the park from the city and have a separate, larger revenue source.

The catch? It would make your property taxes go up.

One option is a $.50 tax on every $1,000 of assessed value. That means an average $150,000 home in Yakima would pay $75 more a year in property taxes. That would increase the park's budget by more than $1 million. So are people willing to pay more for potentially better parks?

"I would be willing to do that because I take advantage of this facility," park visitor Rudy Kezele. "But, those that don't you might have a problem with the $.50."

It's the little things like fresh cut grass and an empty trash cans that you can for granted. But if money continues to drain out of the parks department, there's no doubt the city will have a harder time keeping up.

"That's not a sustainable course," said Yakima City Manager Tony O'Rourke. "That will continue to shut down parks and some recreational facilities and I think clearly this community doesn't want that to happen."

Maybe not, but will you vote to pay more? It's ultimately up to you.

Yakima City Council will meet again in a month to decide what option to put on the ballot. Nothing would change for at least another year.

Yakima has more than 300 acres of parks.