The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Proposed school bond threatens local economy


February 6, 2020

To The Eagle:

Do the math. If approved, your total property tax bill will swell from $7.92 per $1000 of assessed value to $11.29, a 42% increase. The percentage of your total tax bill paid to the school district jumps from 19% to 43%. Considering there are currently nine other taxing districts at a combined average of 9% it’s obvious something’s out of balance.

In its first year alone the school bond would garner approximately $1.44 MILLION in revenue, a staggering amount increasing annually if the county’s appraised value continues its 11% growth rate. Where does this money come from? It comes from taxpayer’s discretionary income, dollars pulled out of the local economy as residents struggle to budget limited resources. $1.44 Million (and increasing) less spent per year in Wahkiakum County (arguably more, as consumers flee to Longview for goods and services to help balance their budgets). No rural economy can handle such a shock without severe consequences.

This is all so unnecessary. In 2015 I voted on a school bond for the Lopez Island School District. Lopez is a ferry-access-only island in the San Juan Islands of N/W Washington where I owned property at the time. The situation was nearly identical to what is faced here (except building costs are much higher there). A rural K-12 School District in great need of building upgrades for student safety and comfort servicing under 200 students supported by approximately 2000 taxpayers. The bond was approved for under 10 million dollars at a tax rate of approximately $1.00 per $1000 assessed value (roughly 1/3rd the current proposal). Today, that school is a fine example of what can be done when pencils are well sharpened.

Decent schools compliment a decent community and deserve support from all residents. But what good is it to educate our children if they have no local economy to enter once they graduate, and tax rates are so aggressive new entrants are highly discouraged? I would gladly put the school board in touch with Lopez Island School District personnel who solved that dilemma.

James Kyser



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