Vote No on West Ada Levy

By Jerry Gibbs

Voters should closely examine ballot measures, from any taxing authority, with an eye of skepticism. Ballot language, which is written by taxpayer funded lawyers and loosely approved by local election offices, are usually written to cover the real purpose for the measure and true cost of your YES vote. Much of the language is required by law and voters rarely read these long statements to understand the purpose and real cost. Taxing districts counts of your emotional vote not your factual vote.These deceptive tactics are just another reason voters are losing trust in government.

To prove my point the present West Ada School District (WASD) levy request only mentions the $13,850,655 cost but the true cost for the two year request is really $27,701,310, an amount you don’t see anywhere on the ballot. These tactics are designed to downplay the real cost to the taxpayers. And the “levy math” used to determine your tax never considers increased home values in the equation. The “levy math” is always used by those that tax you to confuse you.

It took a study of the ballot measure, information request to the district and a thorough reading of their campaign website and social media postings to find the keywords that states the real reason for this levy request. Those words are “sustain salaries”. 

At a time when teacher salaries (according to Idaho Ed News) are up $5,151 since the 22-23 school year and teachers this year got a 9.1% increase this year I wondered why they needed to “sustain salaries”? The answer angered me.

The West Ada School District has again poorly managed their budget. Like six other states (California, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Texas) Idaho funds schools based on attendance, not enrollment and attendance is down in the West Ada District. The reduced attendance forced the state to cut the district’s budget by $7 million. Instead of taking a business approach to manage the cuts they took the government approach and increased their budget 7% and didn’t adjust staff levels to deal with the cuts in state funding. Their plan is to tax you to make up the difference. To avoid a reduction in force, due to lower attendance, they need $27,701,310  for two years to “sustain salaries” for 152 personnel at $85,000 per person (salary and benefits).

But you hear no discussion of the district’s approximately $100 million in reserves and the Idaho Press headline story this week about the state awarding the district a whopping $152 million for facilities. And don’t forget this is the same district that wanted $500 million in new taxes last year for building new schools and other unnecessary spending. Now they are forced to admit attendance is down and new buildings are not needed. Can we trust WASD?We need a pause of all new school funding tax measures until Idaho has decided on School Choice and then ask the legislature to re-imagine school funding. Don’t support the poor management decisions of the West Ada School District that only enables their overspending tendencies. Please vote NO on May 21st.

Jerry Gibbs is a resident of Eagle since 2017. A former school board member in Washington state and PAC chairman for Citizens for Responsibility Spending, Gibbs is an advocate against wasteful government spending and wants education reforms for Idaho.

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