Comments on today’s story about the county’s Veterans and Human Services Levy, approved for the Nov. 8 ballot by the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners, indicate there is considerable lingering disgruntlement about the board’s decision in 2009 to defer collection of the the veterans assistance fund levy in 2010, a move made to help balance the county’s general fund budget.
Please note that the fund that would be created if voters approve the special Veterans and Human Services Levy is separate from the county’s Veterans Assistance Fund, but because they both are aimed at helping veterans, people have connected the dots.
Commissioners Josh Brown and Charlotte Garrido, who were on the board at the time, seemed at last night’s meeting well aware of the sense of mistrust and long memories of those who disagreed with that decision, the net result of which was $320,000 that did not go into the fund.
Garrido and Brown commented more than once to that effect.
“Levy proceeds can only be used for the stated goals of this program. Levy funds cannot be used to supplant the county’s general fund.” – Charlotte Garrido
“We want to make it very clear that if this levy is approved, these monies go in a lock box. The monies cant be diverted.” – Josh Brown
I’ve attached a copy of the Veterans and Human Services Levy Resolution to the story (and put a link to it here). The document goes into considerable detail about how the money will be tracked and allocated. Revisions were made in response to public comments, said Leif Bentsen, who coordinates the county’s Veterans Assistance Program. Whether provisions of the resolution adequately provide for efficiency, transparency and effective use of the $1.4 million per year is open to debate between now and Nov. 8.
Several readers also commented that they would prefer a sales tax over a property tax. Commissioner Rob Gelder got back to me today and reaffirmed what he said at the meeting. While state law allows for the county to collect sales taxes for a host of purposes, a human services levy is not among them. The closest the law comes to that is a provision for mental health funding, Gelder said.
Chris Henry, reporter
Here’s the entire document for those who can access it.