San Juan Island residents have been able to vote since Friday on two local measures in the first election of 2020. In this February special election are two decisions that are important to both the school and the emergency services communities.
The Journal staff urges readers to vote yes on both accounts.
Sales tax for emergency communication
If you sat down and listened to the scanner for an extended period of time, you’d hear many of the transmissions covered in static — difficult or even impossible to comprehend. It is imperative that emergency services — law enforcement, fire and medical — have reliable radio coverage. This upgrade isn’t limited to just San Juan Island, it will benefit the sheriff’s office on all islands; San Juan Fire and Rescue; San Juan Island EMS; Orcas Island Fire and Rescue; Lopez Island Fire and EMS; and county public works.
On all of the islands, there are places that the existing radio infrastructure cannot reach — this is dangerous for both the emergency responders and the people to whom they are responding.
According to San Juan County Sheriff Ron Krebs, the present system has not been upgraded since the 1970s.
The measure is for a 0.15 percent sales tax increase for five years — that will pay for the design and construction of the new system — which will then drop to 0.05 percent indefinitely thereafter for ongoing maintenance. The beauty in this upgrade being funded by sales tax is that everyone that uses the services — tourists included — will be responsible for paying into the enhancement of the radio. This particular tax won’t fall directly onto the backs of property owners or residents but will be distributed among everyone who buys something with a sales tax on it in the San Juan Islands.
Support our community emergency medical response by joining us in voting yes on Proposition No. 1 – Sales and Use Tax for Emergency Communication Systems and Facilities.
School district capital levy for school facilities & technology
I’ll start by saying: This is not a new levy. That is very important when you’re deciding how to vote.
In fact, it’s a decrease in the existing capital and technology levy from 46 cents per $1,000 assessed property value to 39 cents per $1,000 assessed property value for the next four years.
While the state Legislature began “fully funding” education in 2018, many schools still received a shortfall of financing from the state. The McCleary ruling doesn’t cover capital improvements, facility repairs or technology equipment, implementation and support.
Approving this reduced-cost levy will help support districtwide LED upgrades and preventative maintenance; pave the elementary playground; re-roof the middle school; provide science labs to the high school; and much more.
Join the Journal staff in voting yes to renew the school’s capital and technology levy.
For more information on the school levy, visit https://bit.ly/2TZRAMP.