Say 'yes' to Tigard-Tualatin levy request
Voters should vote "yes" in November to support the Tigard-Tualatin School District's local option levy.
It's not the first time voters have been asked and it likely won't be the last. The levy first went to voters in 2000 and passed muster. It did again in 2004, and in 2008 and yet again in 2014. In fact, that last win was the biggest yet, with an estimated 70 percent of Washington County voters and 76 percent of Clackamas County voters saying "yes."
The voters were right those years. They'd do well to say "yes" again this time.
Measure 34-285 is a renewal, not a new tax. That means, even if it passes, you won't see a new, additional charge on your property tax bill next year.
The money would go toward:
n Funding for approximately 100 teachers who work in classrooms throughout the district.
n Helping to maintain existing classroom programs.
n Protecting class sizes supported by the current levy.
n Supplementing state funding to maintain local school services. This last point is important. We do not adequately fund public schools in Oregon to meet what's called the "Quality Education Model." That is: The amount necessary to hit the highest priorities of Oregonians. Since we don't choose to fund public schools properly — and we haven't since the tax revolt era of Measures 5 and 50 — local options let local voters say, yes, our local school deserves some extra bucks.
That's where the term "local option levy" comes from.
If approved, the levy would continue the existing rate, which cannot exceed $1 per $1,000 of assessed value, for another five years. That would cost the owner of a $300,000 home $300 per year or about $25 per month; the same as now.
Some voters will be scratching their heads and wondering, "Didn't I say 'yes' to a bond measure just a couple of years ago?" And, in fact, voters in 2016 passing a bond measure to rebuild or renovate a wide array of Tigard-Tualatin Schools.
So it's important to understand that a levy differs from a bond measure. In Oregon, bond dollars are used for construction and land purchase, but cannot be used to pay for employees, such as classroom teachers. So we pay for that new school with bonds, but we hire teachers in that school with a combination of General Fund dollars from the Legislature and, in the case of Tigard-Tualatin, with a local option levy.
This levy is estimated to raise $9.4 million in 2020-21.
Bond measures also raise a specific amount of money. But a levy — based on a dollar-per-thousand of assessed value for taxable properties — raises more money as more properties are constructed.
(Editor's note: A graphic breakout on Page A3 of the at-home edition of the Sept. 13 issue included incorrect information about bonds and levies.)
But getting past the complexities of Oregon public education funding laws, voters should support this measure. Tigard-Tualatin has proven itself to be a good steward of the public's money.
Measure 34-285 will appear on the Nov. 6 vote-by-mail ballot. The last day to register for the election is Oct. 16. Ballots should arrive around that date.