Walkways & Waterways FAQ
What is Walkways and Waterways?
Walkways & Waterways is a pedestrian and bicycle safety and waterfront park improvement bond measure that will be proposed to Kenmore voters on the November 8, 2016 ballot. The measure, if approved, will allow the City to issue bonds to pay for 1) new sidewalks and bike lanes on Juanita Drive and 68th Avenue, from Kenmore’s southern city limit to its northern city limit and 2) public waterfront improvements at Log Boom Park, Rhododendron Park, and Squire’s Landing Park.
How did the City arrive at the Walkways & Waterways proposal?
The Walkways & Waterways proposed bond measure is the result of the City’s “Imagine Kenmore” public outreach initiative. This initiative began last summer and included a number of public meetings, online interactive methods, and two randomized statistically valid phone surveys to solicit public input on priorities for pedestrian and cyclist safety and park improvements. Results from this outreach effort concluded that sidewalks and bike lanes on major roads and connecting residents with the City’s public waterfront are top priorities. The Walkways & Waterways project list reflects the results of the outreach effort.
How much will the Walkways & Waterways measure cost?
The total cost of the sidewalk, bike lane, and waterfront/open space park improvement projects, including bond issuance costs, is estimated at $19.75 million. Click here for details.
Who pays for it?
Property owners will pay for the projects through increased property taxes for the terms of the bonds (20 years per bond).
How much will it cost property owners?
The estimated cost for the owner of a median-valued home in the City, $438,000, is $140.16/year or $11.68/month.
If property values go up, will the annual amount paid by property owners go up?
No. The bond payments will be constant over the terms of the bonds, similar to a conventional home mortgage. So if property values go up, the tax rate will go down in order to keep the bond payment constant (Property Values X Tax Rate = Bond Payment). As more properties come on to the tax rolls through new development, the cost will be shared by these new properties, and the annual cost for all property owners will go down slightly.
Does the bond measure mean the City will go into debt? How much debt does the City currently have on the books?
The bond measure will result in the City issuing bonds (debt) in the amount of $19.75 million. This debt amount will be paid off through increased property tax revenue over the 20-year terms of the bonds. The City of Kenmore currently has no debt obligations.
Has the City of Kenmore ever gone to the voters for a bond measure or any other tax increase ballot measure?
No. Kenmore incorporated as a city in 1998 and has never placed a tax measure on the ballot, until this proposed measure for the November 2016 ballot.
How long will it take for the projects to be built?
Projects will be completed over the next seven years:
- 68th Avenue. Two downtown sidewalk and bike lane segments on 68th Avenue would be constructed in 2019. Because of design and permitting requirements, the remainder of the 68th Avenue improvements would be completed by 2022.
- Juanita Drive. Due to grant funding cycles as well as right-of-way and permitting requirements, Juanita Drive sidewalk and bike lane improvements will likely be built in segments from 2019 to 2023.
- Log Boom Park. Waterfront improvements need permit approval from various state and federal agencies. Such approval and associated time for design should result in completion by 2023.
- Rhododendron Park. The boardwalk, trail, and associated open space enhancements has already undergone substantial permit review. As a result, this project is anticipated to be constructed in 2019, if not sooner.
- Squire’s Landing Park. Similar to Log Boom Park, waterfront improvements and natural open space enhancements require permit approval from various agencies and should result in project completion by 2023.
Why can’t the city pay for these projects out of its existing funds/budget?
The City has limited funding for capital projects, especially of this size. Most of the City’s General Fund and Street Fund budgets pays for operational costs such as public safety services (police, jail, etc.), street maintenance, park and facility maintenance, and administration.
Where do my property taxes get spent?
Property taxes pay for services provided by various jurisdictions, including the Northshore School District, the State of Washington, the Northshore Fire District, City of Kenmore, King County, Port of Seattle, and others. Just under 11 percent of your property tax goes to the City of Kenmore. Property taxes received by the City of Kenmore pay for operational costs such as public safety, parks and facility maintenance, code compliance, land use planning, and administration.
I see that to complete the Juanita Drive sidewalks, other sources of funds are needed. What happens if you don’t get those funds?
Juanita Drive is a corridor of regional significance and should compete well for grant funds. Of all the Walkways & Waterways projects, Juanita Drive is the most well positioned to obtain State and Federal grant funding. The $5 million for Juanita Drive included in the proposed bond measure will serve as a local match for the grant funding, which increases likelihood of receiving grants for the project.
Does the measure include maintenance costs for the projects?
Costs to maintain new park, bike lane and sidewalk improvements after construction will be added to existing facility maintenance costs. Because the City is already providing maintenance services for these three parks and two roads, the City anticipates an incremental increase in maintenance costs starting in the early 2020’s after project completion. The City is currently conducting a thorough Parks and Public Works maintenance services analysis with the goal of improving and creating efficiencies in the way resources are allocated to park and road maintenance activities. This services analysis will include the future improvements from this bond measure. In addition, general contractors who will construct these improvements will be required to provide plant establishment and warranties for 1-2 years after project completion. Lastly, volunteerism at city parks has grown substantially in recent years and has proven to be a valuable supplement to park maintenance resources. The City’s park volunteer program will continue to grow and will likely help further offset maintenance costs at the three waterfront parks in this bond measure.
Pedestrian and bicycle safety are a top priority of the community and the Kenmore City Council. As a result of several pedestrian and bicycle fatalities in recent years, the city stepped up its efforts to improve pedestrian and bicycle safety, including the adoption of a Target Zero program. The Imagine Kenmore process, including statistically valid phone surveys, concluded that our citizens continue to ask for new sidewalks on arterial roadways as a top priority to improve safety. Acting now will take advantage of current construction costs and interest rates before they escalate in the future.
Next to pedestrian and bicycle safety, the Imagine Kenmore process found that citizens have a strong desire to connect the public with the City’s waterfront. In other words, citizens are asking for more opportunities for the public to access Lake Washington and the Sammamish River, and this need has been repeatedly expressed over the years. Current low interest rates, taking advantage of construction costs before they escalate further, and lead time needed for environmental permitting all contributed to bringing these projects forward for voter consideration this year.
Can the City pay off the bonds early?
Yes, the bonds can be paid off after 10 years. However, the City is planning to collect property taxes from the taxpayers over 20 years. The City is only allowed to collect property taxes in an amount needed to pay annual debt service, so the City does not anticipate having funds available to retire the bonds prior to the final maturity. However, depending on future interest rates, the City may have an opportunity to refinance the bonds and reduce the amount of taxes collected to pay debt service.