Saturday, April 23, 2016

Political Desk: Local Funding

Some very, very few of you who read this in King County received ballots a few weeks back, which, like solicitations for public radio, you promptly put aside to be addressed/considered/recycled. Like the charity solicitations, they are asking for money. Unlike them, they are not offering a stylish tote bag. But dig it out anyway.

In our case, up on Grubbstreet, we have two things on the agenda. Oen is for approving bonds for Kent School District #415. The other is for re-authorizing an existing benefit charge to help pay for fire services for the Kent Fire Department Regional Fire Authority, which covers Kent and Covington.

And here's the regular complaint I have about such measures - we don't get to vote on tax breaks on large aerospace firms or legislator pay, but on things that you or I would consider basic services, the purpose of taxes in the first place, THAT we get to vote on.

But you've heard those complaints before. Let's get to the meat of the situation.

Kent School District No. 415 Proposition No. 1 Capital Improvement and School Construction General Obligations Bonds - $252,000,000 puts about everything in the title. This replaces retiring bond issues, and won't result in an increase in tax rate - you're voting for status quo. Its got a big list of improvements - two new schools, 20 additional rooms, new facilities and parking. A full list can be found here and here.

The problem is that this measure requires not just a majority, but a super-majority to pass. Thanks to the weirdness of our current casters-up tax law, this measure must pass with 60% of the vote. Let the court note that if a CANDIDATE gets 53%, people talk about a landslide victory. I think I can get 40% of the voting population to vote against anything, particularly if it involves taxes.

In any event, I will recommend voting Approved on this sucker, even though it doesn't talk about replacing the temporary school rooms at Glenridge, which have been there since I moved into the neighborhood over 15 years ago.

The other matter is Kent Fire Department Regional Fire Authority Proposition No. 1 Continuation of Benefit Charge, which continues an existing tax (so yes, keeping the status quo). This is not a bond but a benefit charge, supplementing the normal budget (but not exceeding 60% of the total budget (currently it is at 46%, down from the previous year)), and assigned based upon building use, floor space, hazardous materials, and the like (pretty much how much an effort it is going to be to put out a fire at that location).

It is, according to the Kent Reporter, ANOTHER one of those super-majority situations, where it doesn't just have to win, you have to win with 60% of the vote. And yeah, it is to keep doing what it's been doing. So YES on this authorization.

And finally, while I was writing this, the Voter's Pamphlet for the May primary showed up in my mailbox. So even when I get ahead, I get sucked back in.

In meantime, vote by this Tuesday. Here are the details.

More later,