The Metro Council voted to request around $20 million in regional parks funds from voters at the Nov. 8 election.
The request would extend one of several Metro parks and recreation measures for several more years. It would continue to pay for restoration and maintenance, park operations and opportunities for people to access parks and natural areas.
A yes vote extended the end date of levy funding from June 2023 to June 2028.
Renewing the levy would not raise taxes because it would continue the existing rate. The levy costs 9.6 cents per $1,000 in assessed home value — about $25 a year for the owner of a home with $250,000 in assessed value.
"One of Metro's roles is to look into the future and plan for what our region needs, not just now but also in 20, 30 or 50 years," said Lynn Peterson, Metro Council president. "As we think and plan for the future, we know that we need parks and nature close to home to support the livability of our region."
The levy, if renewed, is projected to raise about $19.5 million per year.
About 40% of the money would go toward restoring and maintaining natural areas to improve water quality and fish and wildlife habitat. About a third would go toward the operations of both regional parks and historic cemeteries. The rest would go toward community-led investments and operations, including culturally specific nature education programs and community grants that advance climate resilience and racial equity.
Levy money also would be aimed at diversifying the contractors Metro hires as well as engaging with diverse communities to help envision how new park amenities and improvements are made.
Metro owns more than 18,000 acres of parks, trails and natural areas. Much of the land was acquired with money from natural area bond measures that voters approved in 1995, 2006 and again in 2019. The levy funding complements that bond funding by allowing Metro to restore and maintain those properties and to staff parks.
In 2016, voters in greater Portland approved a five-year, local-option levy to protect clean water, restore wildlife habitat and provide opportunities for people to access natural areas and rivers. That funding is set to run out in June 2023.
"This parks and nature levy brings the spirit to the work," said Councilor Juan Carlos González. "The bond, it pays for things; it pays for buildings, it pays for trails, it pays for signage. The levy is what brings people, brings programs, brings spark, brings education and it's a great value for what taxpayers pay into it and what we get out of it throughout the entire region."
Metro serves more than 1.7 million people in the greater Portland area. In addition to managing the Oregon Convention Center, Portland'5 Centers for the Arts, Portland Expo Center and Oregon Zoo, Metro also manages the region's garbage and recycling system, protects clean water and air at more than 18,000 acres of parks and natural areas, oversees long-range planning across 24 cities and three counties, and is supporting construction of more than 3,000 affordable homes regionwide with more on the way.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.