Yes on county’s levy lift; no on I-976 | Editorial

Yes on county’s levy lift; no on I-976 | Editorial

Vote yes for Proposition 2

The county has put forth a levy lift for this November’s election that will benefit a wide array of community members.

It will help fund such programs as senior services, victims’ support through the prosecutor’s office and the Islands’ Oil Spill Association.

Initially approved in the fall election of 2009, Proposition 2 is a continuation of an existing levy lift that began in 2010. The original levy was renewed in 2014. The proposed lift would provide stable funding for community programs and services generating $1.7 million in funding based on a levy of 22 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. The original levy lift was for 16 cents per $1,000.

Unlike the previous two increases, which each had a six-year limit, this proposition does not specify an ending. A levy lid lift allows a property tax increase greater than 1 percent annually, which is the amount established by state law.

If approved by voters, the 2014 lid lift would be canceled and the new one would become effective in 2020. From then on, the levy amount collected would be limited to a 1 percent increase per RCW 84.55. The total collected levy would be 85 cents per $1,000. For more information on Proposition 2, visit https://www.sanjuanco.com/1642/Proposed-Levy-Lid-Lift-2019.

The increase and need for a permanent funding solution are due to the growing needs of our community. The lift will provide the following annually: maintenance of county buildings and grounds, $23,000; natural resources programming, $40,000; general fund support of the San Juan County Fair, $51,000; corrections and work release program, $54,000; victim services through the Prosecutor’s Office, $68,000; parks and fair maintenance, $100,000; Islands’ Oil Spill Association, $130,000; support to emergency management services, $140,000; public health services on San Juan, Orcas and Lopez Islands, $145,000; Washington State University Extension programs, $228,000; maintenance and operation of county parks, $326,000; and senior services programs on San Juan, Orcas and Lopez Islands, $404,000.

If this new levy lift is not approved, at the end of 2020 the levy would terminate unless another lift proposition was placed on the ballot in 2020 and approved.

The reality is that critical social and environmental services will be drastically cut if this levy is not approved. We are a community that prides itself on taking care of one another. Voters clearly showed support for this measure previously and the small increase in the levy amount is reasonable and necessary. We urge you to approve Proposition 2 this election.

Vote no for I-976, $30 tabs

Owning a car is expensive. Owning a newer car or even an electric one is more so. It’s unsurprising that the promise of $30 tabs is appealing to many car owners who have watched the cost of registration inch its way up. Don’t let the “low cost” fool you though, there is a higher cost hidden behind the shiny facade — especially to islanders.

We urge islanders to vote no on I-976.

The annual fee to register a vehicle in Washington funds the state’s transportation budget. The transportation department is what ensures our roads aren’t riddled with potholes, our bridges don’t collapse and our ferries continue to run. If I-976 is approved, Washington State Ferries would be gutted — it’s always the first to receive cuts, according to legislators, because the east side of the state believes we’re all wealthy and the ferries are our private yacht service.

In 1999, Republican lobbyist Tim Eyman was able to get I-695, also a $30 tab initiative, on the ballot, where it passed. This crippled the transportation system in the state for quite some time. It’s just now starting to regain its footing. I-976 would once again destroy the state’s transportation budget.

Results of the last $30 tab initiative included the 2013 Skagit bridge collapse; deferred maintenance on aging ferries; and no new ferries being built for a decade, from 1999-2010.

The Legislature was conservative with the transportation budget this year, in anticipation of Eyman’s initiative. Thus why it funded only a single existing ferry to be retrofitted as hybrid electric and diesel. No new ferries were funded in this session. The islands aren’t set to get a new ferry until 2028 as is, and if Eyman’s initiative passes that date could be pushed out further due to lack of funding. WSF’s 20-year plan didn’t account for $30 tabs.

If your reasoning for voting for I-976 is that fares are increasing, you may want to reconsider. After $30 tabs passed last time, fares increased by an average of 20 percent in 2001 — the largest increase in WSF history. That wasn’t the only increase over that decade either, it also went up 12.5 percent in 2002; 5 percent in both 2003 and 2004; and 6 percent in both 2005 and 2006.

You could expect such increases would happen again if I-976 passes. While your tabs would be less expensive, the burden of paying for the ferry system would go from being distributed throughout the state to landing square on the shoulders of islanders.

Don’t fall for the shiny $30 tabs and the promise of “saving money” at the expense of yourself, your neighbors, your ferries and the safety of your roads. Vote no on I-976.