Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Kent Levys

So, for a change we're not worried about the levees here in Kent (which are holding up just fine so far -- it helps that the river, while moderately high, is behaving itself so far this winter). Rather, it's time to think about the levys -- that is, the three proposals for funding schools and libraries that appear on our mail-in ballot that came a few days ago.

On the surface, this seems like a no-brainer. I mean, what's a better use of tax money than funding public schools and libraries? That's as American as apple pie. But then so is the tradition of Tax Deadbeats (see: the Whiskey Rebellion). So, just what are these levys?

The first is to bypass one of Eyman's initiatives (which is reason enough to vote for it all by itself). The King County Library (third busiest in the nation. who knew?) gets almost all its funding through property tax. Since 2001, property tax increases have been capped at 1% a year. So the Levy is to allow a one-time, one-year exemption and boost the library levy rate to fifty cents on every thousand dollars. So, if your home's worth a hundred thousand dollars, in 2011 you'll pay the one-time rate of fifty bucks to keep the public libraries going. Sounds good to me.

The second and third both relate to local schools, and in each case they renew an existing levy for another four-year term rather than establish a new one. The first provides Kent schools with a fifth of their operating budget -- so, if it doesn't pass, they have to lay off 20% of their teachers. The second is for technology -- buying new computers to replace old ones that wear out, and the like. Again, supporting public education is one of those things everyone shd be willing to do, whether you have kids or not.

--I shd note that I started to draft this post last week but got bogged down; the arrival yesterday of our Voter's Pamphlet has stirred me to get it done. Of the four measures covered in it, three don't relate to us (i. e., they're not on our ballot), with the exception being the library levy. I was bemused to read the 'Statement in Opposition', which essentially took the tack that it's morally wrong to raise taxes in times as hard as these. I'd take that more seriously if I thought for a minute that the person making it had advocated investing more in libraries and other public services back when the local economy was booming. Somehow I suspect not. They also note that kids neglected by their parents often wind up spending lots of time at the libraries, since they're warm and clean and safe -- so, they're rather the kids huddled on street corners in the rain?

One of the measures described in the voter's pamphlet sounds like Federal Way's version of our Kent tech levy (why ours isn't in there I don't know). Again, the 'Statement in Opposition' is hard to take seriously: "There is little evidence that computers have been able to enhance student achievement" -- i.e. 'computers? who needs computers? why, in my day . . .'

So: whatever your opinion on these issues, be patriotic: vote. And, if you can, be a good citizen: vote yes.

--John R.

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