Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor: Feb. 3

School levy

We should help pay for quality education

While I agree with Jeff Schnelz’s letter (“Vote against the school levy to effect real change,” Jan. 13) that our state is supposed to fully fund basic education, the fact is the state does not do so. Our state would love to but it, too, is riddled with unfunded mandates from the federal government. I do not feel our children’s education should suffer because of this. Also our schools go beyond the basics to give the students more enrichment. We need to pay for this.

The Vashon School District has tightened its belts. The administration has laid off teachers and reorganized for more efficiencies in other areas. Even with this levy passing, more cuts might be necessary. I applaud the school district for keeping its promise to fully fund maintenance, despite hard financial times. Four percent — or almost $100,000 a year — of this operations levy will be spent for custodial services and minor repairs.

It is up to us, the taxpayers, to make sure our children have access to quality education. I, for one, am happy to help pay for this. I am voting yes for the school levy on Feb. 9.

— Hilary Emmer

Taxes

Tax rates have a big impact on business

I’m reasonably confident that most local businesses on Vashon would disagree with Steve Graham’s opinion (“Tax cuts do more harm than and little for the local economy,” Jan. 27) that tax cuts wouldn’t help them very much. Tax rates have a lot to do with a businesses ability to be competitive. The higher their tax rate, the smaller their profit margin. A business can only increase prices so much before customers stop buying their product/service.

Continuing to raise the tax rate and eliminating tax breaks will ultimately drive companies out of business, or out of the state, and also discourage new companies from moving here. Most companies that I know of are in business to make a profit. Vilifying a company like Boeing for doing what it has to in order to increase its profits shows a real lack of understanding of the free enterprise system. In a free market economy, companies have choices, and when the operating environment is not business friendly they tend to move to where it is friendly. Unfortunately, at the present time, Washington is not considered to be a business-friendly state.

Increasing the tax rate and eliminating tax breaks does not necessarily increase revenue over the long term. Even my sixth-grader can tell you that having 10 percent of something is a lot more than 50 percent of nothing. A larger tax base is what we really need (more companies and people paying taxes) to increase tax revenue. So what’s our plan as companies continue to leave this state, taking jobs with them? Raise the tax rate on those that are left? That’s an economic death spiral.

A short term Band-aid fix is a poor substitute for a long range strategic plan!

— John Cushing

The state’s poor and middle class pay more

“The state of Washington has the most regressive tax structure in America,” state Rep. Maralyn Chase said recently. “Washington state’s poor and middle class pay taxes at rates three times higher than the richest one percent. Given the $2.6+ billion state revenue shortfall, the time has come to consider serious tax reform.”

Why is this our tax system so regressive? Because our state relies heavily on retail sales tax and does not have a progressive personal income tax.

Think of it this way. In February, my husband and I spent $48.34 in sales tax amounting to approximately .9 percent of our income. If our income were half of what we currently take in, the same amount of sales tax on the same purchases would be 1.9 percent of our income. If our income were twice what we now take in and we paid the same amount of sales tax on the same purchases, it would be only .04 percent of our income. Is it fair that there is such a discrepancy between income levels when we all receive the same state services?

I know there is great fear of a personal state income tax from people who believe it will be added on to the sales tax. It’s up to us, as citizens of Washington state, to call for replacing the sales tax with a progressive income tax. When we pay taxes we are paying our share of the cost of the services we want from government. But taxes should be fairly distributed according to income, not according to retail purchases every family needs.

— Kate Hunter

Property management

Do research before choosing someone

Thanks to Emma Amiad for her comments about property managers (“Just Ask Emma,” Jan. 20). We like to think that unethical and illegal business practices do not happen here on Vashon; however, that unfortunately is not the case. In addition to Emma’s advice, I would add that before choosing a property manager, please do your research. There is more than one licensed property manager on the Island, so be sure you talk to more than one candidate, in person if possible. Get references from not only other owners, but tenants that are managed by these agents as well. Speak to other real estate professionals on the Island. This may seem like a lot of trouble, but it is nothing compared to the trouble you can have if your property and your money are not properly managed.

If you have property already managed by a property manager, take the time to go over your monthly statements and be sure that expenses are properly documented and the numbers are accurate. Ask for any receipts or invoices that are missing. Also ask for verification of any credit or background checks that should have been done for you on your tenants.

If you are a tenant or property owner that has experienced unethical or illegal behavior by a property manager, such as inaccurate bookkeeping, missing funds, lack of credit and background checks, lying or withholding information from you about the property, repairs not attended to, or personal harassment or assault, I also strongly urge you to report it to the authorities listed in Emma’s article. Please a part of vanquishing these kinds of businesses from Vashon.

— Amy Windus

Water District 19

County is acting irresponsibly

The Beachcomber reported two weeks ago that the county is telling Water District 19 to find more water. It is irresponsible for the county to so create a culture of growth, particularly with climate change turning real. But Water District 19 is also to blame, for it would “work with the county,” according to the story, in implementing what I’m calling a travesty. Why didn’t Water District 19 suggest to the county that if it would help pay for remote meter reading with in-kitchen readout, then there would not be any need to find new water?

— Tom Herring

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