Is Wa-Hi project greed than need?

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We received ballots on Saturday. Guess what? No mention of excess tax refunds on the ballot. Surprise! Surprise!

Why doesn’t the Walla Walla School superintendent answer questions about architect fees and time limits on tax refunds?

Remarks from school supporters: Cheap interest rates! Economically it makes sense! Contractors waiting to give cheap bids! Interior hallways for fewer students! More potty rooms! Elevators to attic storage! Too hot! Too cold! Drama dressing rooms! More potty rooms! Crowded lunchrooms!

Is this Wa-Hi project slanted more to greed than need?

Mark Higgins, the school district communications director, says Walla Walla High School’s education is top-notch.

One Walla Walla School Board member said: “Out of eight school districts near us, only Richland, with a $1.21 per $1,000 assessed value, currently has a bond tax rate slightly lower than Walla Walla’s current bond rate of $1.27.”

Is the board member suggesting we spend money because it’s a great deal?

My wife uses that rationale regarding sales events! “The more you spend, the more you save.”

The chief financial officer of the Walla Walla Public Schools said. “Taxpayers throughout Washington state will pay $21.6 million (about one-third of the project) through state matching funds.”

That quote neglects to say Walla Walla taxpayers pay their share of all state school matching dollars. Walla Walla taxpayers have already, or will later, pay 100 percent of the state matching dollars for Wa-Hi.

Matching dollars aren’t a gift. The state doesn’t give without first taking.

Wa-Hi suggestions. First, fix the science building. After that:

Maintenance: M&O levies are over $10 million annually. Maintenance seems to have been shortchanged most of Wa-Hi’s life.

School Districts seem to allow schools to deteriorate to force taxpayers to pass tax bonds. Let’s stop this subterfuge.

Air-conditioning: There used to be no school in June or August; two hot months. Schools now operate two or three weeks in those hot months. Why are schools bellyaching about self-inflicted discomfort?

Wa-Hi safety: Too many entrance doors? Make 80 percent of existing exterior doors exit-only. Replace exit-only door windows with one-way glass.

All weather track: It invites unwanted people onto Wa-Hi’s campus.

Expensive architects: A few million of sensible spending from saved architect fees and M&O levies will alleviate many problems. It only takes the will to do so.

Unsightly portables: Permanently remove them when 300 to 400 students from College Place exit.

Wa-Hi will again be one of the most beautiful campuses in the state.

Vern Filan

Walla Walla

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Comments

Doceo says...

Mr. Filan, it appears that you are suffering from a near apoplectic rage regarding the possible passage of the Wa-Hi school bond. I am sorry for how you must feel.

The school board made a very public policy decision regarding the return of any excess bond funds to the voter. I am not sure why this statement would be included on the ballot. Is it possible that language presented on the ballot was set some time before? I don't know the answer to the question but it is a possibility. I for one believe that the school board will act responsibly.

As far as elevators are concerned, I suspect that there is relevant federal legislation related to who has access to the 2nd story of the campus. When buildings are renovated they must be brought up to code.

Regarding the matching funds, if the good citizens of Walla Walla have already paid these taxes or have partially paid for these taxes why should they not reap the benefit of this money that has been set aside. It seems that we should get a good return for what has been paid.

An all weather track will be a magnet for people but they will not be unwanted. The Wa-Hi campus along with every other public school campus belongs the community. If people can find a use for an all weather track beyond the track team and the physical education department that is a good thing.

District maintenance personnel have done yeoman's work to ensure that the facilities are ready for use but things wear out over time. Now is the time to spend the money to update Walla Walla High School

Posted 30 January 2013, 6:34 p.m. Suggest removal

namvet60 says...

My main concern came to mind when I opened my ballot and there was a total of one item to vote on. This couldn't have waited until the next election ballot to save money? Who paid for this ballot - the taxpayers! When there is no other way to spend spend find new ways to spend.

Posted 31 January 2013, 6:25 a.m. Suggest removal

fatherof5 says...

I'm told that there was a word limit on what could go on the ballot. If you were to read the full legal text of the bond measure, it specifies that any extra money will be returned to taxpayers in the form of an early retirement of the debt. I've noticed that - with a few exceptions - many of the bond's critics don't bother to research their concerns before going public with their conspiratorial accusations. It is a poor way to hold what should be a civil debate.

Posted 31 January 2013, 10:26 a.m. Suggest removal

namvet60 says...

Are you footing the cost of this vote? Or is the cost again layed out to the taxpayer!

Posted 31 January 2013, 5:58 p.m. Suggest removal

fatherof5 says...

You're against voting? namvet, you are the biggest complainer I have ever not met.

Posted 31 January 2013, 8:05 p.m. Suggest removal

namvet60 says...

You dodge more questions than any good progressive - Why have a single issue vote instead of putting it into the election cycle and save the money ?

Posted 1 February 2013, 6:23 a.m. Suggest removal

Doceo says...

I believe the reason for running school bonds in off cycle elections is to separate school funding issues from the the political acrimony that surrounds elections in November. Paying for schools is one of our most important civic duties if not the most important. Separating the school funding process from the trumped up emotionalism of the fall election is a good idea. Fortunately our mail in ballot system makes this a simple process.

Posted 1 February 2013, 6:46 a.m. Suggest removal

fatherof5 says...

Thanks for clarifying, Doceo. I'm just exasperated by the negativity. If it's not one thing, it's another. Virtually all school bonds in the state are run in the spring.

Posted 1 February 2013, 10:27 a.m. Suggest removal

namvet60 says...

Does simple process still cost money? I'm feeling a little hurt :( by fatherof5 by being ostrasized over asking a question. As you have rolled out your scripted propaganda on this bond and asking some questions I'm being labeled a complainer. Are you trying to sell a pig in a poke with no explanations of all the loose ends. I have a lot of questions and I have inquired in various venues but the answers are still leading to loose ends. The only issues available for passage are the 50 year old complex. If that's the point why wasn't this bond put up last spring instead of the enjoyment of passing a new bond (tax) and now bring on the construction bond. Doceo - I'm well aware of the political processes but in this economy it seems that everyone has money to burn. I'm not one of those people and I don't think that putting a city in enormous debt is a civic duty. While costs are constantly climbing - especially in the health field - and everything is gradually gaining I find it very outlandish to think that a new bond will justify a good feeling!

Posted 1 February 2013, 6:38 p.m. Suggest removal

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