District restructuring hopes for November ballot

Oak Harbor repealed the resolution for a metropolitan park district to appear on the primary ballot.

With a unanimous vote among the four participating council members, Oak Harbor repealed the resolution for a metropolitan park district to appear on the primary ballot. The Island County commissioners also repealed the resolution as part of the consent agenda with little discussion.

Councilmember Shane Hoffmire, having affiliations with both the council and the district, abstained from voting.

The North Whidbey Pool, Park and Recreation district needed both city and county support for the option to restructure their district to appear on the ballot. While they received this in March, hiccups in the ballot language brought the prosecutor to suggest that both municipalities rescind their support.

The ballot measure erroneously states that the Oak Harbor City Council and Island County commissioners supported the formation of a metropolitan district, when in fact they only supported placing it on the ballot for voters to decide. Additionally, the ballot says the new district requires a 50% vote plus one to approve a rate of $0.75 per $1,000 of property tax, when the parks and rec district only supported a $0.25 per $1,000 rate.

The wording, “City of Oak Harbor and Island County jointly propose,” was in the consent agenda they all approved, Councilmember Bryan Stucky noted at the recent meeting. However, because it does sound like an endorsement, it needs to be changed.

In addition, the language may not have been ideal, but it wasn’t contradictory, said Brit Kraner, interim chair of the parks and rec board. If they do not exceed a rate of $0.25 per $1,000, they are also not exceeding a rate of $0.75.

Councilmember Eric Marshall confirmed the language in the March meeting with City Attorney Hillary Evans, who approved it at the time, Kraner said.

Multiple council members expressed interest in revising the language quickly for approval for the August deadline to appear on the November ballot, which is what former parks and rec district chair James Marrow suggested.

“Repeal the existing MPD language. Revise the MPD language. Replace the MPD language,” he said. “Repeal, revise, replace.”