Letters to the Editor

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SCHOOLS: Many can’t afford more tax increases

Letter by Jerry L. Premo, Gig Harbor on Jan. 30, 2012 at 2:17 pm with 45 Comments »
January 30, 2012 2:27 pm

My ballot for the Peninsula School District levy shows the levy amounts increase every year. Levies are confusing in how they tax our property, but the levy amount increases shows the tax increases.

The governor wants increased sales and gas taxes, Pierce County is raising taxes for flood-control plus tolls and ferry fares going up. The price I have to pay for food, gas and medicine go up each time I make a purchase.

Like me, many out there on a fixed income are at a ceiling of what we can pay. My Social Security COLA was quickly eaten up by Medicare cost increases, and that was the first COLA since 2009. Many on a fixed income are at their limit they can pay for taxes.

Schools must backfill through major reforms instead of raising taxes. Why do they refuse to make bold reforms in the runaway cost of retirement and health care? These costs are the major reason their budgets are strained.

As long as we continue to approve these levies, the district won’t change. As long as we approve state and county tax increases, they won’t change. But I am forced to change how I spend when money is tight. It’s time for schools and the state to do the same.

Bold reforms must be made and made now because my cupboards are bare when it comes to approving more taxes.

Leave a comment Comments → 45
  1. sandblower says:

    Jerry, your address comes up as the Gig Harbor Sportsman’s Club. Are you sure you can’t afford a little increase?

  2. Jerry’s 6 figure profit margin will decrease w/higher taxes….

  3. truthbusterguy says:

    This is not the time to place additional taxes on the majority of Gig Harbor citizens. This increase may be fine for the many affluent taxpayers in town but what about the not-so-fortunate citizens on a fixed income like many of my friends.

    Premo surly speaks for the retirees on Social Security (no increase for the last two years), those who are on fixed incomes and see the value of their income decrease every day. He speaks for the elderly who, in times of crisis, obtain a reverse mortgage to defray the increased cost of living and taxes.

    I think he also speaks for the people well past retirement age who are still working, saying they do it to keep busy, but truth be known, need the extra income to pay their tax burdens.

    Maybe he is trying to tell the school district that everyone doesn’t live in Canterwood. Premo, speaks for my Mom and Dad who have no chice but vote NO and for the first time. Levy will tax them too much, maybe out of there home, because they are at the financial breaking point.

  4. Fibonacci says:

    Hey Jerry
    You don’t want to vote for the levy because you don’t want to increase your taxes, then you say that retirement and benefits are the problem. The levy has absolutely nothing to do with benefits and retirement. At least understand how it works before you go off on your tirade.

  5. alindasue says:

    “Why do they refuse to make bold reforms in the runaway cost of retirement and health care?”

    The “runaway cost of retirement and health care” is not limited to schools and teacher contracts, as is evidenced by your Medicare costs also increasing.

    Health care costs have been steadily increasing overall in this country. If you ask any teacher, you’ll find that he or she is probably paying more for his or her premiums, just like we also are paying more for ours at my husband’s work. However, in both cases that means that the employer portion of the premiums has also gone up.

    I keep hoping that once the provisions of “Obamacare” take effect (if they are allowed to take effect) that health care costs might stabilize – but I’m not holding my breath.

    Anyhow, you can’t blame the employees because their health care has become more expensive.

  6. taxedenoughintacoma says:

    Back to school for you.

    The levy has everything to do with the cost of benefits. Go look at the district’s website. 80% of the levy money goes to staff. Which is code for, pays the increasing retirement and health care benefit payments.

    Where is the reforms in all state funded schools to rein in the cost of benefits?

  7. ManuelMartini says:

    Retired teachers have health care benefits paid for?????

    Retirement accounts are paid for by the school district and not the retirement fund that has been paid into for years?????

    Boy, taxedenough is really hot on this one.

    Here is the real scoop on the levy:

    Projected rates per $1,000 of assessed value are $2.14 in 2013, $2.27 in 2014, $2.38 in 2015 and $2.34 in 2016

    Your $200,000 home will be assessed $428 in 2013. Divide that by 52 weeks and you’ll pay an extra $8.23 per week.

    I’ll pay Jerry’s first week of 2013 from my coffee money.

  8. ManuelMartini says:

    “80% of the levy money goes to staff.”

    And levy money makes up 22% of the entire budget.

  9. taxedenoughintacoma says:

    So I can vote NO and cut my taxes by $428 dollars????? WOW, you just made up my mind for me. Thanks.

    Now I can buy an $8 coffee too.

  10. Fibonacci says:

    Back to school for YOU. Teacher benefits come from the state, NOT from levy money. Levys pay for programs for KIDS, so go ahead, a vote no who cares? You are one of those anti-shool voters that schools know will ALWAYS be a no vote whatever the issue.

  11. Fibonacci says:

    Retired teachers do not gets medical benefits unless the pay for them.

  12. alindasue says:

    taxedenoughintacoma said, “Now I can buy an $8 coffee too.”

    When you divide your portion for the year by the number of teachers, the amount per teacher wouldn’t even be enough to buy a cheap coffee at McDonald’s…

  13. alindasue says:

    Fibonacci said, “ManuelMartaini
    Retired teachers do not gets medical benefits unless the pay for them.”

    I think that’s the point he was trying to make.

  14. taxedenoughintacoma says:

    What do teachers in charter schools get. Answer, a lot less and kids graduate that can even read.

  15. taxedenoughintacoma says:

    I have to make my own coffee, cheaper than “fat macs”.

    Question for you levy guy. When the levy loses when do I get my $428 tax deduction? Now we are talking some stimlus money $$$$$!!!!

    I can buy another gun, yupeeeeee and new blue tarps for the roof I can’t afford to repair.

  16. bobcat1a says:

    Taxed, where did you get the notion that kids do better in charter schools? No research indicates this.

  17. ReadNLearn says:

    Times are hard enough and now we gotta flush more money.

  18. BigSwingingRichard says:

    Jerry, I agree, but you are forgot to mention the half a percent increase in sales tax rate for the 911 system. Get ready to begin paying 9.8% sales taxes which have already been approved.

  19. Jerry. I support public education. Teachers and students need our support.

  20. Fibonacci says:

    Charter schools are PUBLIC schools. What do they do different? If the rules they don’t have to follow are not important, why to the rest of the public schools have to follow them, and if they ARE important then the charter schools should have to follow them also. Charter schools are no better nor worse than the rest of the public schools. In unique instances, they may benefit students that are not able to function in regular schools, but poor taxedenough will be devastated to learn that the teachers in charter schools are the same public teachers that he/she hates.

  21. ReadNLearn says:

    We’re subsidizing failure.

  22. taxedenough? Charter schools get to cherry pick their student population. Do you REALLY think their success scores reflect what public schools are left with in the data? Do your research. They actually are no different statistically from Public Schools. Anyone can teach a kid who wants to learn and comes from a supportive environment. Its a much tougher job to get the rest of the challenged kids and families on board.

  23. taxedenoughintacoma says:

    OK, let charted schools with non union teachers teach the 98% of the students that want to learn and let the government schools teach the one that don’t.

    Govenment schools lower standards for all students so the 2% of bad students don’t drag down their test scores. This has destroyed one generation of kids. How much longer will this be allowed to continue.

    Don’t you remember the days that a score of 70 was a D-. Now it’s a score of 60 and there is talk of lowering the passing grade even more. They already did just that in Canada.

    Some states still require a score of 70 to pass. But not the “low standands, theacher union doninated” schools in WA State. Dumded down kids, become dumb engineers that design and build the Sprague off ramp. 2+2 is 5 I guess.

  24. The only purpose charter schools serve is to break the union. That’s why people like taxedenoughintacoma say that they support them. They don’t perform any better than non-charter public schools. It’s all about the union with them. They never talk about private schools do they? No. Because than the parents would have to put their money where their mouth is. If you don’t like socialized education choose private education. If you feel that you cannot afford private education………

  25. taxedenough? You’ve lost all credibility because you benefit from your wife’s 25 years on a union job with benefits and seniority. You say you are taxed enough? You live off of taxpayers, so essentially you are giving us our money back.

  26. We’re subsidizing failure.

    Nice bumper sticker….but what does that mean? Are you suggesting that the way to improve public education is to not fund it? That education is the one area that is better without being able to pay for facilities, staff and programs?

  27. tree_guy says:

    Interesting that Sandblower and others attack the letter writer rather than the ideas expressed in the letter. Yes taxes are TOO high and additional levies will compound this fundamental problem. Administrators should roll up their sleeves and figure out how to get the job done on existing funding levels.

  28. ManuelMartini says:

    Taxenough is a posterchild for taxed public education.

    “Without public education, your child could be like this”

    On the other hand – if 75% of students graduate, how is that “failure”? Anyone successful in 75% of their endeavors would not be rated a failure.

  29. ManuelMartini says:

    “Administrators should roll up their sleeves and figure out how to get the job done on existing funding levels.”

    And when the cost of doing business goes up, business should hold their prices at existing levels and suck it up.

    As we all know, the cost of gasoline has not increased in decades. Rents are the same as the 1950s……etc, etc, etc, etc.

    Roll up those sleeves.

  30. As with any tax or levy there will always be some who cannot afford the extra expense. If we based all taxes and levies on the inability of the least fortunate to participate we would be unable to collect sufficient revenue to function as a society. Most of us can afford this levy and shouldn’t hide behind the Jerrys of the world.

  31. itwasntmethistime says:

    Levies are simply a way for funding to decrease at the state level. If we tripled our levy dollars the state would decrease funding the same amount. It is a fallacy to think that a community can vote to bring more dollars into their local schools, when the reality is that the more a local community pays for its own schools the more the state diverts education dollars to other areas of the budget.

  32. NWflyfisher says:

    We, the taxpayers, simply cannot afford to have taxes raised to keep the schools running. The schools MUST do their part and cut back SIGNIFICANTLY on those programs and activities that are not directly focused on academics. A strong “NO” vote from me on the Gig Harbor Levy.

  33. taxedenoughintacoma says:

    I notice no one threw a rock at me for bringing up the subject of low standards in schools. A shameful practice that the unions use to make themselves look good when the WASL scores are published.

    If the standards for the 100 yard dash were the same as government union schools I would have a gold metal.

  34. taxedenoughintacoma says:

    Happy to hear you are loaded and have no compassion for those on a fixed income. You 1 percenters should send a fat check to the schools, not raise taxes and force people out of their houses.

    While your at it send the Gov. a check to so she won’t raise every tax on the book to further burden the folks living payday to payday.

    State workers are doing OK in the recession. At least the liquor employees will soon get a wake up call. Also, have you heard when the going out of business sale starts at the state stores? Thank you Costco.

  35. Typical non-sense response. I will continue to support public education while you continue in your efforts to gut it.

  36. commoncents says:

    taxedenough – instead of drawing the best students to what you consider a superior product why don’t you advocate charter schools to be available for only those who aren’t meeting minimum standards? If the system and educators are truly better than what you will find at a public school (at lower pay and benefits? good luck! You’ll get the altruistic few but not anyone who needs the dough to provide for their family) then they will be able to reach these kids in a way that no one else can…it’s a win-win. But that’s not what you want and you know it.

    As for cadillac benefits and pensions. The health and retirement plans are better than only 1 of my 4 different employers that I have had in my career. I hardly call them cadillac. My spouse is a teacher but my child is not on her plan – he’s on mine. If it’s cadillac then he’d be over there. If the retirement plan is so special on the education side then we’d be contributing our 401k money to their plan (which would make it a 403(b)….but we don’t. We use my 401k because the fees are lower and the choices are better and I get a match on it (yes, I also get a pension).

    See, many people think that the plans are so special because it’s better than what THEY are receiving from their employer. But instead of asking for more or better for themselves they complain about what everyone else gets. Not too smart on their part. And, no – not every business out there is hurting…are they making do on less? Sure…but not necessarily hurting.

    I do feel for the senior citizens on a fixed income. However there are programs designed to help those who can’t afford the taxes. They can freeze their valuations. They can find support. If they truly can’t afford it – the help is there.

  37. I read that the supreme court found levie’s illegal??? They should be as the property owners are held hostage by them. I am also on a fixed income and there is just NO more money to be doled out, on anything, period! The schools waste so much of our money they need to start living within their means like we over taxed property owners on a fixed income have to. My husband knew a buyer from one of these schools that told him that anybody that voted yes on a levy is not only out of their mind but stupid due to the waste. Our vote still stands at NO Way!

  38. Commonc:Freezing the value of our home is a joke. Our old farm house worth is “frozen” for property tax purposes at $260,000 but would only sell for about $175,000, if that, not to mention we couldn’t afford to buy anything else if we did sell. I have tried to get the assessed value down to a realistic worth to no avail. As stated before on these posts, at least 60% of our property tax already goes to schools and againa, isn’t that enough?? Vote NO on any levies and/or tax increases.

  39. commoncents says:

    no – they found that the use of state’s reliance on levy’s to fund basic education unconstitutional.

    If there is waste in purchasing – don’t blame the schools. Blame your legislator. They are the ones that set the laws.

    Darlin- so what you are saying is that you took advantage of the exemption while your property was valued at 260k and had no problems with not paying additional taxes or having your home revalued but now you’re questioning that decision. You, like many others, should have seen the housing bubble coming – at least that’s what a lot of folks would say. Personally, I think the exemption should allow for 1 “do over” every 6 years that would allow for a revaluation instead of fixing it at the value at initial application. That being said, I would imagine that in 20 years you’ll be ok with the exemption but then again maybe not. BTW…what your house would sell for makes no difference in the valuation of your home. Your house valuation is actually in relation to every other house in your area. So the only way to decrease your taxes is if every other home retained it’s value while yours declined. If everyone goes down then nothing’s changed.

  40. ManuelMartini says:

    “My husband knew a buyer from one of these schools that told him that anybody that voted yes on a levy is not only out of their mind but stupid due to the waste.”

    You always have to love people who defecate where they eat. Maybe the “buyer” needed to do his or her job better, as opposed to complaining about where his or her pay comes from.

  41. Fibonacci says:

    70% used to be a D-?? On what planet? I started school in the 50’s and D- was always 60
    5 with C- 70%.

    Who says the teachers in a charter school are non-union? Where is that written? Public school teachers (which are “union” teach in the charter schools because the are PUBLIC schools, so therefore they are “union”: also.

  42. taxedenoughintacoma says:

    Now I know why you are a 60% dumb government school grad. I went to school in OR.

    Some states, such as Louisiana, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee may use the following grading scale:

    Grade Percentage
    A 93–100
    B 87–92
    C 75–86
    D 70–74
    E/F 0–69


  43. beerBoy says:

    taxed – 4 states out of 50 is 8%……. 8% isn’t a passing grade in any state.

  44. ManuelMartini says:

    % of what?

    I had a professor in college who told a story about his student teaching days. It seems the prof with whom he was assigned in the Lit department gave a test for interpretation of a literature piece. They were going over a student’s answer and the professor marked “I disagree” and gave the student a “D” for his essay.

    Taxed is worried about students not getting 70% correct for a minimal passing grade. Since he is wrong about 90% of the time, I guess we know how to grade him.

    “TaxedEnough” has been enjoying food and shelter, accodations of his spouse’s teacher’s wage for 25 years (see other thread). He claims teachers are paid too much.

    Much like the alleged “buyer” that claims there is “too much waste”.

  45. commoncents says:

    Grade percentage is only relevant when compared to the complexity of the test (materials). An accounting class at my university was incredibly difficult and was graded on a curve. On any quiz or test, if you got 60% of the questions right then you generally were in the “B” range. And before you go there…if you’re one of the top accountants in the country then you know exactly who this Professor is and like and admire him. If you aren’t…then you have no right to critique his methods.

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