By Becky Aylor, Jim Hammond, Sharon Ling, Rand Runco, Jayne Simmons, Theresa Slavkovsky, Lois Worcester, Tom Worcester, with Jeff TryensThe Sisters Park & Recreation tax district turns 21 next year. We are eight long-time Sisters Country residents who helped raise the Sisters Park & Recreation District since its infancy. As SPRD reaches adulthood, so to speak, we believe it is time for the taxpayers of Sisters Country to recognize that SPRD has grown into a mature, multi-purpose organization by supporting Measure 9-120, the local option tax measure on the May ballot.
Many of us were involved in the creation of SPRD's predecessor, SOAR, which provided after-school activities for kids who would otherwise go home to an empty house. In fact, one of our number, Tom Worcester (and his friend, Bob Grooney), came up with the name SOAR - Sisters Organization for Activities and Recreation.
We were there when voters responded to a community-wide campaign to support SOAR through a tax levy in 1998. Over the years, we have watched SPRD grow from a single-purpose organization, supporting "latchkey" kids, to an agency that responds to myriad community recreation, education, safety and health needs.
And we've been involved every step of the way. Had it not been for SPRD's pre-school program, Becky Aylor, then a single parent, would not have been able to hold a job. Rand Runco was the head coach for SPRD-supported basketball for many years. Jim Hammond of the Sisters Astronomy Club works closely with SPRD to put on its monthly "Stars over Sisters" events for the community. Theresa Slavkovsky, who works at the Family Access Network, has partnered with SPRD for years to provide scholarships for kids participating in SPRD activities. And Sharon Ling, who is deeply involved in senior programs supported by SPRD, even has a daughter who was one of the original pre-school teachers at SPRD. Current board member Jayne Simmons' grandchildren have participated in numerous SPRD-sponsored sports.
We know SPRD! And we are passionate about ensuring that this wonderful agency has a sustainable future.
By now you have probably heard many of the arguments in support of an SPRD tax increase: that current tax funding has dropped to less than 30 percent of total budget; that pre-school/after-school programs have become expensive for many families; and that staff turn-over is unacceptably high; and that delayed maintenance is a growing problem.
All true, but what really concerns us is that you, our friends and neighbors, may think that SPRD will keep on keeping on with or without this tax increase. We, who know SPRD inside and out, do not believe that the current funding model is sustainable for much longer. Without additional public support, something will have to give.
We would be remiss if we didn't mention the important economic boost SPRD gives our little town every time a big SPRD-sponsored tournament occurs. To see for yourself, ask Pam Wavrin at The Depot Café how important those out-of-town sport families are to her business. Or check out the number of families with teens in uniform making purchases at Ray's on a tournament day. This is economic activity generated by SPRD, plain and simple.
Most importantly, SPRD has improved the lives of literally thousands of people, particularly children, in Sisters Country over the past 20 years. It's good for the town in so many ways.
The SPRD Board of Directors is asking the average homeowner to contribute less than a dollar a week in additional support. We believe that is an investment well worth making.
We hope that you will take the time to vote, and vote yes on Measure 9-120: "Five-year local option levy for improving recreation programs and facilities."