Ask hard questions about tax increases | Roger Gay

In the near future, a number of organizations in our county will be asking for funds to continue operations or to create new programs.

Recently, we and many others received the latest statements from the county assessor’s office. My home increased 2.5 percent in value from 2017 to 2018, or about $6,000.

Using numbers from my taxes from 1986 to 2017, roughly the following has happened:

— State school taxes increased 100 percent;

— local school taxes increased 1,270 percent;

— county taxes increased 255 percent;

— county roads taxes increased 332 percent;

— South Kitsap Fire and Rescue taxes increased 6,409 percent;

— Kitsap Regional Library taxes increased 204 percent;

— the stormwater fee increased 102 percent. It was $45 in 2003; now it’s $91 per year;

— public utilities district tax increased $244 percent, and;

— Port of Bremerton taxes increased 270 percent.

The value of my home increased 240 percent from when I bought it until the latest 2018 assessed value.

The largest increase is the South Kitsap Fire and Rescue district. It also is the one that has had the most change in what they do and the service they provide. In 1986, I paid $7 for the fire service; in 2017, I paid $455. With the modern equipment and highly trained staff they supply now, the fire and emergency medical service for one of the largest areas in Kitsap County compared to the very limited service in 1986 justifies the cost. I fully support the levy that will be on the ballot in August.

A 100-percent increase from Olympia and 1,270-percent increase from the South Kitsap School District: Where has that money gone? A new high school? Removal of multiple temporary buildings? Is it paying for the many unfunded mandates the school district receives from not only Olympia, but from Washington D.C.?

Between the two, I will pay $1,245 in 2017, basically a month’s mortgage payment. For what? A dysfunctional Olympia that can’t figure out a school budget given over five years to work on it? A local school board that can justify hundreds of millions in funds needed to catch up on decades of neglected and needed improvements, yet can’t convince voters of the need or justification for the expenditures?

Kitsap County roads and county general taxes increased more than my home’s value. The county commissioners instituted a noxious weed fee that is $2.08 per year and a stormwater fee of $91 a year with a potential increase on the horizon. An additional tax is also being considered. Are we as taxpayers getting a good return on our mandated investment?

All of these increases the last few years had a commonality, the limit of 1 percent a year in increases being allowed.

Many of our elected leadership are advocating that Olympia change that and allow a much larger increase each year, upwards of 5 percent potentially. Being on a fixed income and relying on Social Security, I have had a cost of living increase of 0.0 percent in 2015, and 0.3 percent in 2016 and 2017. So basically, any CPLA increase is lost in the allowed increases in taxes and fees. Fixed income residents seem to fall further behind each year.

This year, we’ll see a number of requests for tax increases. Every taxpayer needs to ask questions of our leadership and demand justification and accountability for any increase. The only increase I support is the South Kitsap Fire and Rescue levy that will allow the manning of additional stations.

Considering the large percentage of medical calls SKFR responds to, this older citizen likes the improvements.

All the other requests will be carefully looked at to see if the return on investment is actually worth the expense. Every taxpayer needs to do the same by asking questions and holding accountable those who want our money.

With elections being held for various offices, ask those running what they see as priorities and how they would justify the increases.

Roger Gay

South Kitsap

RAISE Act is crucial for Alzheimer’s care

Caregiving is an emotionally, physically and financially draining role. I have been one of those caregivers.

For seven years, I lovingly cared for my husband as his health deteriorated. In the end, there is not only the personal heart-wrenching grief, but there is a whole spectrum of painful losses.

Across Washington state, there are more than 335,000 people providing unpaid care for people with Alzheimer’s or other dementias. In 2016, caregivers provided an estimated 382 million hours of care valued at $4.8 billion. Without those millions of hours provided by unpaid caregivers, the drain on our health care system would be even more costly.

The projected Medicare and Medicaid costs for tending to those with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias for 2017 is projected to be $259 billion!

I am advocating for the Recognize, Assist, Include, Support and Engage (RAISE) Family Caregivers Act, now moving through the U.S. Senate as SB 1028. This bipartisan bill would provide needed support to our nation’s caregivers.

Endorsed by the Alzheimer’s Association, it would facilitate the creation of a national strategy to address the many issues facing caregivers: education and training, long-term care and support services, and financial stability and security.

The RAISE Family Caregivers Act is consistent with the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease. From firsthand knowledge, caring for someone with progressive dementia is an exhausting 24-hour-a-day responsibility. As the disease takes its toll, the caregiver needs to be a person with diverse training and support.

Please join me in thanking Sen. Patty Murray for voting for the RAISE Act in committee and in urging Sen. Maria Cantwell and U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer to support this needed legislation in the coming months.

Madeleine Fraley

Port Orchard

Face the future, let go of the past

The Kitsap Peninsula has a proud military history. We read about it in almost every issue of the Port Orchard Independent. This is a fine thing, of course, but it seems to be a reflection of America in general.

Today, America ranks far behind Europe, Russia and Asia in education. As a result, many Americans cannot compete for good-paying jobs in today’s information age. Our infrastructure is overworked and our healthcare system is in a sorry state compared to other industrialized countries.

With all due and proper respect to the many brave soldiers, sailors and airmen that fought in “the Big One” back in ‘44, perhaps it’s time to realize that war was 70-plus years ago, and it’s time to place a bit more emphasis on the state of our country today.

The past is gone.

Bill Elliott

Port Orchard

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