Kent’s parks could see benefits

Josh Echt

Charles Huber said he hopes passage of Ballot Issue 14 in Tuesday’s election will net better volunteers for the Kent Board of Building Appeals.

John Idone, Kent parks and recreation director, and James Williams, Kent fire chief, also said they hope three more issues – Issues 11, 12 and 13 – enable them to continue to maintain the city’s parks and fire services.

Huber, Kent building services supervisor, said the proposed charter amendment of Issue 14, if passed, will no longer require persons appointed to the board to be electors, or residents, of Kent, thus opening up a greater pool of area applicants to choose from.

“In the past, city council appointed people to the Board of Building Appeals,” Huber said. “They had some difficulty finding qualified volunteers for the board.”

The existing charter dates back to May 1992. He said passage of the issue will not cost Kent taxpayers because it is a charter modification, not a levy.

“The initiative for the proposal was brought forward to the Charter Review Commission,” Huber said. “We also held public meetings explaining the proposed change and presented our case to Kent City Council.”

The nine-member Board of Building Appeals is composed of five volunteers of varying construction trades, one general elector and one alternate. Huber said the Board of Building Appeals’ main duty is enforcement of building codes of one- , two- and three-family buildings in Kent.

The election will also affect other city services, including its 18 parks, said Idone.

If passed, Issue 11, totaling 1.0 mill; and Issue 12, totaling .43 mill; would benefit Kent’s park system, Idone said, and last for 10 years. Mills are determined by factors such as valuation, which is 35 percent of a home’s value in this case, he said.

“If you own a $100,000 house, Issue 11 would cost you $31.50 per year, while Issue 12 would cost you $13.55 per year,” Idone said. “It costs less than one dollar a week ƒ_” and it will support and maintain the parks and area trails, although actual recreation program costs will still be covered by registration fees.”

Idone said passage of the issue would translate into higher property values for homeowners. “This issue has achieved continued success since the 1960s because Kent residents value their park system and recreational space,” he said.

The November election will also highlight city services such as the fire department’s efforts to pass Issue 13, a .73 mill, five-year replacement levy focusing on keeping the city’s west side fire station open, said Williams. He said the station, in Ward 6, houses three of the department’s 34 personnel. It would maintain its current staff operation if the issue passed, Williams said.

“Our costs are increasing every year ƒ_”- we will allocate funds to keep the station running,” Williams said. “The passage of Issue 13 will also help our operating expenses.”

Although the last five-year fire levy successfully passed in 2000, Williams said, a shaky economy, perceived or real, might affect some voter choices in the November election.

“We have had no problems in the past with this issue, but we can’t take anything for granted this time around,” Williams said.

Contact public affairs reporter Josh Echt at [email protected].