Voters approve Proposition 1

12:05 a.m.

Proposition 1, or the park sales tax, passed with 64.4 percent of voters approving it.

In the swanky, dim-lit main dining room at Boone Tavern, parks tax supporters gathered for a watch party on Tuesday night. A restaurant employee said attendance was steady throughout the night, with former mayor Darwin Hindman and his wife being two of the first few people to show up.

Several people, including Hindman, Parks and Recreation Director Mike Hood and Park Services Manager Mike Griggs, stayed until after 11 p.m. to be sure of the final count. Although the vote looked promising from the beginning, they didn’t want to be too confident.

“I had no idea what to expect because the previous two votes have been in the low to mid 50s, they have not passed overwhelmingly,” McDavid said. “This matched the surveys that we had done in the spring, which indicated to us then that people valued and respected their parks and used them. And this vote validates that survey.”

With that survey, the city tried to gauge whether citizens would support a ten-year extension of the tax instead of a five-year extension. They chose the latter because support was higher.

“We had a strategic decision to make,” McDavid said. “We felt like we had more probability to pass a five-year tax. I think with this overwhelming response, it’s likely we could have passed a ten-year tax, but this is information we didn’t have back then. So, we have to stand by the decision we made, but I think it’s a valid decision and frankly, if we earn the respect of the citizens, I don’t see any reason why this can’t pass (again) in five years.”

Hood said he thinks citizens were pleased with the projects that had been completed over the past five years and that may have made the approval vote higher.

“I think one of the biggest things is that we had completed most of the projects or had all the projects either completed or underway,” he said. “And I believe the citizens had seen the results of their investment in the past and were willing to continue that.”

Unlike the 2005 park sales tax, Proposition 1 did not appear on the ballot along with any other proposals dealing with city taxes.

“There were six different questions relating to local taxes and that just complicates it,” Hood said. “People chose to support some and not others (then), so here it was just a one question ballot issue and that may have been part of the difference.”

During the campaign season, McDavid, Hood and other Parks and Recreation officials feared that Proposition 1 would not pass because of the wording on the ballot and the divided political climate.

– Sarah Horn and Catherine Meagher

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