Olympia Property Tax Levy Proposal (2009)
The Olympia Park Tax Ballot Measure is a measure that would have appeared on the November 3, 2009 ballot in Olympia, Washington concerning a property tax levy that would have been imposed over the next 20 years. However, citing too much uncertainty and lack of support, Mayor Doug Mah announced that he was discontinuing his proposal. The measure asked voters to approve up to $33 million in property taxes to buy an isthmus park and rebuild Percival Landing, a park located in Olympia city limits. The proposal would cost the owner of a $250,000 home about $105 per year for the 20-year period. After that, the tax would expire.
“I think it was the right property, the right vision, the right compromise for the area, but occurring at the wrong time,” mah said.
The proposal was received with mixed reactions from the city, however there was tremendous support from the OLY 2012 Steering Committee, a volunteer group dedicated to improvement of the city of Olympia. In a letter to the mayor, dated March 20, 2009, The OLY 2012 Steering Committee stated their support for the mayor and his proposed ballot measure. The committee wrote:
"We write to express our support for your proposal for a ballot measure to repair Percival Landing and to purchase and remove the Capital Center building from the isthmus.
Percival Landing is a critical asset in the heart of downtown used by tens of thousands of residents and visitors each year. It is a key component of the City’s longstanding commitment to public access to the waterfront. In the past we have noted that the City’s first priority should be maintenance and repair of its existing public assets."
The letter concludes with the committee thanking the mayor for his leadership on the issue of improving the city.
Mah wasn’t able to get consensus from a committee he appointed to study the issue, or from his constituents. A concern with some advocates for an isthmus park is that the park didn't include the two parcels owned by Triway Enterprises, where the developer has plans for five- and seven-story mixed use buildings with 141 condominiums. They object to height of those buildings, saying they’ll block views of the state Capitol Dome.
Gerald Reilly of the Olympia Isthmus Park Foundation also thought that the taxpayers of Olympia should be polled on the issue. Reilly was concerned about taxpayers not being willing to fork over more tax money in a tough economy.
- Proposal would raise taxes for 20 years totaling $33 million.
- $16.5 million would have been spent to acquire the nine-story Capitol Center and adjacent property, demolish them and place an isthmus park there.
- $13.5 million would go to rebuild Percival Landing, the boardwalk and the surrounding area.
- $3 million would be spent to acquire the rest of the block around the Heritage Park Fountain, demolish buildings and complete the park as planned – including the full city block.
- March 10, 2009: Mayor presents proposal of $33 million property tax levy to city council
- March 20, 2009: Mayor receives support from OLY 2012 Steering committee, a volunteer organization dedicated to helping the city
- June 11, 2009: Core group of community leaders meet with Mah to discuss proposal
- July 2, 2009: Mah drops proposal, citing uncertainty and lack of support.