Saturday, May 18, 2024

EDITORIAL: Revised levy request is on the money

| March 22, 2023 1:00 AM

So now we know. Perpetuity is a dirty word.

That’s not necessarily according to The Taxpayer Dictionary of Dangerous Terms. If Uncle Sam or the good governor decided to give you a nice tax rebate every year into perpetuity, why, the meaning is warmer and cuddlier.

But when “perpetuity” is attached to the end of a school district’s request for property taxpayers to ante up until the final curtain comes down, it’s a word that gets stuck in the throat and a motor reflex that can automatically check “no” on a ballot.

Well done, Coeur d’Alene School Board, for acknowledging that element of the $25 million levy request was simply unacceptable to too many voters. Removing the dirty word cleans up the likelihood of passage when the levy floats again on May 16.

Unfortunately, because the $25 million is so critically needed, the school board felt forced to sacrifice the second request. Voters in May won’t be asked to support a measure that would have helped the district begin to catch up on deferred maintenance and safety improvements.

That piper will have to be paid at some point, and the longer we wait, the bigger the bill is going to be. Perhaps the Idaho Legislature will eventually come to the rescue, but all attention is now focused on a $25 million per year request for the next two years.

Then we get to do this dance all over again.

After the recent levy defeat, there’s been plenty of finger pointing and blame spreading. One easy target is local Republican Party officials’ well-financed, ethically bereft campaign against the district’s two requests.

While the ogre casts a terrifyingly long shadow, it is, in fact, just a normal sized player in the political game with a disturbingly loud and screechy voice. The same group that is taking a lot of credit for defeating Coeur d'Alene’s levies isn’t bragging about the fact that the levies it did support, for Lakeland Joint School District, were both shot down.

If Coeur d’Alene School District advocates work hard in the weeks ahead, doing their best to ensure citizens know details of the levy request and what will certainly be lost if it fails, May 16 should be a day not to celebrate, but to breathe more easily for the next two years, knowing quality education and programs will continue.

And if it doesn’t pass? Then we’ll know that perpetuity really isn't a dirty word; it was just an excuse to vote no.