Ill-timed levy

This year’s school levy has pushed all my buttons. We are being asked to approve a levy that is being promoted as a “roll-over,” but it’s not. It’s an increase and one that can be verified by the county auditor.

In theory is that the levy is to cover shortages in state funding. The problem is the state is responsible for “basic” education and the bulk of what levies do is fund the “whistles and bells” the state and “basic” education will never fund.

My problem is my property taxes run close to $4,000 a year now with 52 percent of it going to education. We are all given the impression there was simply no money for education and teachers were horribly under-paid.

In reality, teachers in Hoquiam are reasonably well-paid. The average teacher makes $53,315. Our special levy adds another $4,000 for a total of $57,315 annual salary. The benefit package adds another $10,516. They are also paid extra for attending open house, grading papers and attending meetings. Their hourly rate for their classroom time is $53.06 for the 6 hours of class per day for the 180 day school year. That does not again include benefits.

Lack of funds is also interesting. The Freedom Foundation research materials show the state averages $13,247 spent per student, per year. The average cost of college tuition in the state of Washington is $14,000 for, in some cases, a “world class” education, which the McCleary Supreme Court decision has said we are not currently getting.

This levy is poorly timed. We are being asked to fund programs that the state is responsible for funding and Rep. Ross Hunter said the Legislature plans to fund through increased property and sales taxes.

This levy should not be submitted or even considered until the Legislature adjourns. There is no way to retract an approved levy, and this community cannot afford all these proposed increases or pay more than once for the same thing. Let’s revisit the levy after we know exactly what we need.

John Straka



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