Home Opinion Editorials Local option levy worth taking look at
Local option levy worth taking look at
The La Grande School District is studying the possibility of presenting
a local option levy to district voters to help overcome the revenue
shortfalls the district is projecting lie ahead. The study is certainly
Although the local economy is not in the kind of position that makes passage of any tax measure very likely, the reality is that a local option tax might be the best opportunity to try to keep the district whole at a fairly reasonable cost. Any tax measure right now would be a tough sell. But when the district could be faced with the prospect of more cuts every year, including the loss of athletics and activities, a majority of voters might be able to be convinced that keeping local schools whole is really in the community’s best interest — both short- and long-term. Much would depend on what the proposed tax rate would be and what it could accomplish. A local option levy of say, 50 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, would amount to $50 a year on a property assessed at $100,000. Such a levy would raise about $490,000 a year. While any extra costs are a burden for many residents right now, $50 a year might be sellable considering the tax could be a stabilizing factor for the district and might negate the need for community fundraising campaigns. Anything higher than that would be too much of a longshot at the polls.
The committee studying the concept needs to look at all the particulars — how much could be raised, the cost to patrons, what would be accomplished, whether the local option tax would forestall the need to raise $75,000 every year from the community for activities and athletics, enrollment projections and
so on. A thorough, realistic look at the concept is imperative.
La Grande needs quality schools. Our children’s futures depend on it. And so does the community’s and its ability to grow and to attract the best and the brightest. Schools are always among the top priorities for businesses and families when considering where to move. With the challenges La Grande’s schools have faced in recent years, cutbacks in programs and a district full of old buildings in need of repair, we are running the risk that our schools may be a detriment to the community’s economic development interests.
A thorough study of a local option tax is warranted. La Grande needs a reasonable way to reinvest in its schools and build for the future.