Our Voice: Stop procrastinating -- return school bond ballot before Tuesday's deadline

February 10, 2013 

Sometimes a distant deadline is counterproductive.

Overall, voting by mail has improved voter turnout. However, because the ballot comes several weeks before the election, there are a few of us who let the deadline to return the ballot get away from us.

But now it's here.

Pasco and Richland school districts are both running construction bonds. Ballots for both must be postmarked by Tuesday. (And no, the post office isn't staying open late for you that night.) You also can drop your ballot at several locations throughout the Tri-Cities. A list of drop sites is available online at tinyurl.com/Franklin-Boxes and tinyurl.com/Benton-Boxes.

It's interesting that Pasco and Richland are running bonds that will have an identical cost per $1,000 of assessed value to taxpayers, even though the Richland bond's total is almost double Pasco's. This is because of the tax base is higher in Richland. They have more industry and the average home price is higher. But it's only interesting in passing. It shouldn't dictate how you vote.

Both districts will qualify for matching funds from the state if voters approve the measures.

The districts have distinct needs for the bonds.

Pasco is overcrowded beyond reason. The district owns and uses 192 portable classrooms. It definitely need more classroom space for students.

Richland has some overcrowding (nothing like Pasco), but its big issue is aging facilities. It's been 10 years since Richland's last bond proposal and some of its facilities are due for serious upgrades.

Pasco is asking voters to approve a $46.8 million bond to build two new elementary schools and an early learning center. The money also will be used to relocate New Horizons High School.

The cost to homeowners will be 34 cents per $1,000 of assessed value.

Richland is asking for $98 million to build three new elementary schools to replace three 42-year-old buildings, replace the heating and air conditioning at Chief Joseph Middle School and make upgrades to Fran Rish Stadium.

The cost to homeowners will be 34 cents per $1,000 of assessed value.

Taxing voters in this state requires real effort. These bonds need a 60 percent approval rate to pass.

It is not your privilege to vote, rather it is your duty. And with that duty comes the responsibility of casting an informed vote.

It's hard to mark the box that says "Yes, I want to pay even more in taxes." It is easier, however, when you consider it an investment.

Good schools produce good citizens and future leaders. They create community identity and value. They increase the value of your home and business.

For $34 a year on a $100,000 home, that's a bargain.

The Tri-City Herald Editorial Board recommends approving Pasco and Richland construction bonds.

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