City Council Endorses SK Bond

The Port Orchard City Council on Monday endorsed the South Kitsap School District’s bond despite reservations on the part of two council members.
“I’m not a woman who gives money away easily,” said Rita Dilenno, “but we have to keep the house in order.”

The district is asking for $163.2 million to build a second high school, replace the aging South Colby Elementary School, provide technology upgrades, make improvements to athletic facilities and address general wear and tear on buildings with new roofs and upgrades to HVAC systems. The new South Colby would open in 2009; the new high school would open in 2011. The bond will also provide early payoff on the loan used to purchase the 56-acre site for the proposed new high school, west of Highway 16 off Old Clifton Road.
Councilman Fred Chang asked district representatives at the meeting why all the district’s needs had been rolled into one bond. If the all-mail ballot is approved by voters March 13, it will be the largest bond in Kitsap County history.
“It seems like you’re asking for all your eggs in one basket instead of two baskets and giving the voters a choice,” said Chang.
Dick Davis, a volunteer for the district’s Facilities Planning Task Force, said the committee that drew up the bond thought long and hard about that issue and concluded that a single large bond would be the best option.
The council gave unanimous endorsement to the bond issue. Voting in favor were Mayor Kim Abel, Carolyn Powers, Robert Geiger, Robert Putaansuu, Rita Dilenno and Fred Chang.
Absent from the meeting were council members Rick Wyatt and John Clauson.
Read the Kitsap Sun Sunday for an overview of the South Kitsap Bond proposal and a look at what has (and hasn’t) changed since the district last tried (and failed) to pass a bond in 1996.

3 thoughts on “City Council Endorses SK Bond

  1. Writing in response to the entry on the Port Orchard City Council’s endorsement of the South Kitsap bond proposal, Bob Meadows cited his recent column in the Port Orchard Independent. Here’s an excerpt:

    Most voters are willing to look at the merits (of a proposal) and consider their ability to pay more. We are a community filled with good people who will find a way to afford what needs to be done.

    Even this majority of voters still needs to be told or reminded of the context. When too little information is made readily available, the things “everyone knows” can sometimes be completely wrong.

    To provide the context, our leaders need to learn it for themselves first. When political leaders are ignorant about increases in the total tax burden that far exceed increases in total personal income, they may present arguments in favor of an increase that don’t fit with reality.

    This year, the South Kitsap School District, the Kitsap Regional Library, and perhaps also the county government will be asking voters to approve property tax increases.

    The context in which taxpaying voters will consider these ballot propositions involves substantial recent property tax increases, not all of which would have been anticipated — even by people who paid attention.

    Consider what happened this year to the total tax burden of people living within the boundaries of the South Kitsap School District.

    The amount collected by the state increased by 9.7 percent. As would be expected, our soaring property values and new construction shifted some of the burden from other parts of the state to us.

    As authorized by the voters in May 2006, the fire district increased its regular levy by almost 30 percent. Based on statements made before the election, voters would probably have anticipated an increase roughly half that amount.

    It turns out the costs of hiring additional firefighters were partly incurred in 2006 rather than waiting until this year, so the initial levy increase in 2007 to fund this year’s and last year’s costs is more than voters probably expected.

    Port of Bremerton commissioners decided to create an “industrial development district” and to impose a new property tax of 45 cents per $1,000 of assessed value to pay the costs of expanding the Bremerton marina.

    While they issued press releases in the past two years expressing their support of tax increases proposed by other government entities, they seem to have forgotten to do at least as much in order to explain their own tax increase.

    Residents of most of South Kitsap are included within the boundaries of the Port of Bremerton, so we will be paying more than half the cost of expanding the Bremerton marina. The tax we pay to the port in 2007 will be two and a half times as much as we paid in 2006.

    People living in Port Orchard will experience these increases as well as the effect of their own city council’s decision to increase the dollar amount of the city’s levy by 20 percent in 2007 — following a 27 percent increase last year.

    The effect of increases in the several parts of the aggregate property tax for 2007 is an increase in total property tax revenue of almost 14 percent in unincorporated areas of South Kitsap and a little more than 16 percent within the city limits of Port Orchard.

    There may be only a few people who know what caused the increase in their total tax bills this year, but proponents of additional increases must take the previous increases into account.”

  2. It’s not a letter to the editor. It’s the latest installment of my column. I guess that makes it a shameless plug.

    I say regarding the city council’s endorsement: “Well, bless their hearts….” I’d rather not be wondering if the residents of Port Orchard will resent all property tax increases, now that their council has raised the city’s levy by such a large amount. If this year’s “Valentine” from the county treasurer is the one that awakens them to what their council has done, it may be too late for the council to explain to them before the March 13 election why the city’s increases in the past few years were needed. Bless their hearts.

  3. I’d like to address Fred Chang’s question of why we didn’t ask for two bonds and break the cost down into smaller choices.

    The SKSD facilities initiative is about creating fundamental improvement to student achievement across the South Kitsap School District. Piece-mealing the plan would be like asking for student transportation funding and then giving the voters the option of buying the busses, purchasing the gasoline, and/or paying the bus drivers. All are essential to the priority of getting students to school. It would be disingenuous to ask for the gasoline funding as a separate request because if we didn’t have the gasoline, buying the busses or paying the drivers would be a waste of funds without the gasoline to get the busses and the drivers on the road.

    Such it is with this comprehensive plan for South Kitsap School District’s facilities. Piece-mealing the project would undermine the core objective; which is improving student achievement.

    For our South Kitsap community, I hope our voters will “Invest with a YES” for improving the quality of our public schools. This is a sound investment in our community’s future.

    Kathryn Simpson

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