Murray-Calloway County Parks director Tab Brockman says he has about 1,700 signatures toward a needed 3,039 to get a measure on the ballot in November aimed at raising property taxes to benefit the park system.
Brockman says the potential $1 million the tax will generate annually will make the system's funding comparable with that of other area parks.
The “nickel tax” would cost property owners 5 cents for every $100 of assessed property value. Currently, Murray-Calloway parks receive around $300,000 a year in total funding from the city and county.
"It certainly is a big step from where we are and we would be very appreciative if that were to happen," Brockman said. "It would give us working capital not only for projects that need to be caught up, but also on an annual operating basis."
Brockman says the 300 percent bump in funding would allow for improvements to the 164 acres of parks, which he says are underfunded compared to other parks in western Kentucky.
“If you would like to do a comparison, to see what the funding level is to keep parks at a good rate, at good condition," Brockman said. "Mike Miller Park has 90 acres, okay. Mike Miller Park in Marshall County. They receive $702,000 a year to fund their parks.”
Mike Miller Park receives their funding via a 1 percent occupational tax and employs 10 full-time staff. Murray-Calloway currently has only three full time employees.
Elsewhere in the region, Paducah’s total parks budget is $3.1 million, according to Paducah parks director Mark Thompson.
Brockman says if the needed signatures are collected and the referendum passes in November, the city and county could potentially withdraw their funding, making the nickel tax the parks' only source of funding.