April 15, 2014
Vote for the bond in spite of district
The Lake Washington School District is playing games with the amount a proposed bond measure will cost taxpayers.
Many in the community are suggesting the bond be rejected, owing not only to those games but also to other concerns.
While it’s unfortunate the district is hiding costs, voters should still approve the bond.
To get into the numbers, the district says the $404 million bond will cost property owners 25 cents per thousand dollars of assessed value. That is simply untrue. Next year, the bond would cost voters 27 cents per thousand. A different tax rate is expected to see a 2-cent drop; meaning voters would see a net increase of 25 cents.
Officials seem to ignore the fact that those two cents belong to the taxpayers. If the bond fails, voters will see a reduction in their tax rates. The real increase is 27 cents, not 25. Be honest.
And 27 cents is the lowest it will ever be. As the bond continues, a similar situation plays out. As one sort of tax drops away, the rate for the bond goes up. Charts the district publishes in its guide to the bond, which show the rate each year for the first few years, conveniently end just before the rates start to spike.
At some points over the 22-year life of the bond, the rate hits 77 cents per thousand. Its average over the life of the bond is 61 cents.
That number, 61 cents per thousand, is a more accurate representation of what the bond will cost property owners.
This information is available on the district’s website, if you’re willing to hunt around in the fine print. It belongs front and center.
The need is real, and the request is reasonable. This trickery with the rates only serves to lessen the district’s credibility and turn voters off.
But those who say reject it to send a message are also wrong. It’s not administrators who are going to suffer. They won’t be forced to double-up their offices, or share desks with some other worker who comes in for the late afternoon shift.
No, it is the students who will suffer if this bond fails, being shoehorned into overcrowded classrooms with overworked teachers, and community members should approve it for their sake.
Those same community members should go a step further, and demand the school board and administration tell them the whole picture in the future.
The people deserve an administration that gives a full explanation of costs and a school board that holds them accountable when they don’t.