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Parks and Recreation Finance

This page provides a list of resources and documents for local governments in Washington State related to financing park and recreation services, including grants, concessions, gifts/donations, and more.


Park Districts

Cities and/or counties may form several types of park and recreation districts, including park and recreation districts, park and recreation service areas, and metropolitan park districts, which may levy property taxes, issue bonds, and generate other revenues for park purposes. For more information, see our page Comparison of Recreation Districts.


Bonds and Levies

Local governments may issue bonds or levy property taxes to fund parks and recreation. These options typically require voter approval and often (but not always) require a 60% majority and minimum levels of voter turnout (validation).

For more information, refer to MRSC's City Revenue Guide, County Revenue Guide, and Comparison of Recreation Districts.

Additional information on ballot measures can be found at the following resources:


State Grant Programs

The State of Washington provides a number of grant programs for a variety of park and recreation programs. Many of these grants are provided through the Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO).

The Washington Fund Directory, created by the State Treasurer's Office, provides a centralized online database listing state grants and loans to local governments, nonprofits, tribes, and other entities. There are listings for many different project types including recreation, transportation, housing, environment, infrastructure, and more.

New in 2018: Some local agencies are eligible for reduced matches for the RCO Youth Athletic Facilities (YAF) and Washington Wildlife and Recreation (WWRP) programs. Eligible agencies must meet one of the following criteria: communities in need, counties in need, underserved populations, or federal disaster areas. For definitions and more information, see the RCO's page on Match Reduction.


Finance Administration and Planning


Concessions

Local governments may sign concession agreements with vendors to conduct business within parks (such as selling food and beverages or renting equipment) and charge the vendors a concession fee. Below are selected examples of concession/beverage requests for proposals (RFPs) and requests for qualifications (RFQs).


Gifts and Donations

Local governments, including park agencies, may raise funds through private gifts, donations, and bequests. Below are examples of some codes and policies related to gifts and donations.

General Gift Policies

Park Policies and Gifting Opportunities, Including Memorials

Scholarship Donation Programs

Other Memorials

  • Fort Collins, CO Living Tribute – Tree program to pay tribute to persons living or dead. Site provide regulations and a list of suggested trees.
  • San Jose, CA Monument Policy (2010) – Policy related to the installation of permanent outdoor Monuments on city property to provide the city’s commemoration of persons or events of note, or to otherwise convey the city’s position on various topics (referred to as “Government Speech”).

Park Foundations

Below are some examples of local park foundations.


Recommended Resources

  • Trust for Public Land Action Fund – Nationwide organization providing strategic, organizational, fundraising, and financial assistance for state and local ballot measure campaigns and legislative advocacy

Last Modified: January 21, 2020