Voted Utility Tax for Parks

Background Information

Families enjoying West Bay parkIn 2004, Olympia voters approved a 3% increase to the private voted utility tax (VUT) to fund parks and recreation facilities. 2% of that tax, about 2 million dollars per year, is dedicated to parks.

The original Funding Measure Fact Sheet identified a list projects that were anticipated to be funded by the 2% tax between 2004 and 2025. View the status of these projects.

The other 1% of funds is dedicated to sidewalks and neighborhood pathways and is overseen by the City's Transportation division.

Where Does the 2% Tax Revenue Go?

During the first 10 years (2004-2014), the City has:

In 2006, the City sold $10 million bonds to acquire new park property.  The VUT revenue is used to pay the annual debt payment of $1.2 million.  The last payment will be made in November 2016.  The City has used VUT funds to purchase:

In 2010, the City reconstructed a portion of Percival Landing. Along with $4.5M in Federal and State grants, the use of VUT funds was essential in funding the reconstruction project and ensuring Percival Landing remained open to the public.

The City issued $1.67M bonds, and VUT revenue is used to pay the annual debt payment of $243,000.  The final payment will be made in December 2021. 

VUT funds were used to develop several park properties:

  • West Bay Park Phase 1 Development
  • Mission Creek Nature Park Interim Improvements
  • Margaret McKenny Park Interim Improvements 
  • McGrath Woods Interim Improvements
  • Evergreen Park Interim Improvements
  • Burri Park Interim Improvements
  • Sunrise Park Community Garden
  • Yauger Park Community Garden
  • East Bay Plaza (at Hands On Childrens Museum)

  • Lions Park Shelter Replacement
  • Woodard Creek Culvert Replacement (at Olympia Woodland Trail)
  • Yauger Park Playground Replacement

During the recession, OPARD reduced staff by 13 FTEs.  Without the use of the VUT, cuts would have been more drastic and some parks would have likely been closed.  The table below shows the use of VUT for salaries, benefits, materials and supplies.

2006-09 2010 2011  2012  2013  2014
Op & Maint  $407,494  $207,978  $291,363  $356,108  $454,127  $433,092
Planning & Design  $378,773  $197,933  $275,575  $239,045  $208,524  $252,483

View a map of land aquisitions, development and maintenance projects

2019 Use 

Of the budgeted $1,980,000 revenue for 2019, the City will use:

  • $1,185,000 for park land acquisition
  • $770,000 for park land acquisition debt service 
  • $25,000 for new trails and neighborhood connections


Contact OPARD Director Paul Simmons at 360.753.8462 or