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Petaluma voters to decide on parks tax

Petaluma voters will decide on Nov. 6 whether to tax property owners for the next 15 years to pay for new and improved parks and recreation facilities.

Supporters of Measure X say the $52-a-year parcel tax will provide enough funding over its term to turn Petaluma's aging facilities into improved ones that will attract new businesses, new residents and tourists to town, thus bringing in more sales-tax and other revenues to boost the city's budget.

Opponents argue that voters shouldn't be asked to give more when the city has failed to curb other costs — primarily ballooning public employee pensions — and that the measure is misleading, incomplete and doesn't fulfill its financial promises.

Measure X, an initiative placed on the ballot by the community group Petaluma Friends of Recreation, would create an annual parcel tax on property owners for 15 years, which organizers say will raise $12 million. Single-family parcels, the most common, would be charged $52 a year while owners of housing complexes of more than 11 units would pay $500 a parcel. Senior citizens and others can seek exemptions.

The measure would fund improvements to a range of recreational facilities, from walking trails to the community pool to athletic fields at local parks. The tax would need a two-thirds majority to pass because proceeds are restricted to a specific purpose.


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