Pool ballot ignores true financial impact on homeowners
To the Editor:
I have during the past several months, followed the information provided by the pool committee proponents and the letters to the editor from both the people for and against the pool bond and mill levy election. In reviewing all the letters and news items about the pool, only once did I see what the true financial impact would be on the homeowner's property taxes. Even the election ballot was written in such a manner as to confuse the voting public as to what the true impact on their property taxes would be.
The election ballot calls for a mill levy of approximately 24.29 mills, which in turn would raise the yearly taxes on a $100,000 property approximately $78.21 per year. What people are missing is the first question on the ballot, "Bond Election." This is for the issuance of Two Million Eight Hundred Thousand dollars in general obligation bonds. These bonds, along with the interest on them, are going to be paid off over a 20-year period. These bonds will be paid off with an additional property tax over and above the mentioned mill levy, which you are voting on in the second part of the election ballot. It is estimated that between the mill levy and the repayment of the general obligations bonds it will raise property taxes somewhere between $140 and $150 a year on a $100,000 home.
I have seen some of the letters to the editor from people that think that their property taxes are going to go up only by the amount of the mill levy as stated on the ballot. Be aware that you are going to repay the bonds, also. I have also seen letters touting passage of the election because they say most houses won't be paying as much because the majority of the houses aren't valued at $100,000. I think people are going to find that once you get out of the older sections of housing within the city limits of Libby you're going to find that properties are valued at the $100,000 level, with many exceeding this level of value.
It was interesting to note that three weeks ago the Libby City Council delayed a vote to raise water and sewer rates because of the effects that it would put on the elderly who are on a fixed income. These rates as I recall were very minimal, being in the area of approximately $1 to $2 per month. If the water/sewer rate was going to affect the elderly on a fixed income, try multiplying that times 10 and tell me that it's very minimal. The water and sewer are must-have items.
Compared to most I am a newer resident of the Libby area being here only seven years. During this time I have observed the discussions over what to do about the aging county jail facilities. Each time the plans were shot down because its costs were too high to justify the spending of the money for someplace that you put prisoners. I came from a community that did the same thing with their jail facility. The county commissioners in that city wouldn't attempt to present and pass a bond issue because they knew that people wouldn't vote to pass it. The community passed many bond issues for things such as parks, pools, municipal golf courses and landscaping along the streets, all raising the tax rates. In the mean time our jail continued to become overcrowded and under funded. To make a long story short, the community funded and built a new jail whether we wanted to or not. The federal Justice Department filed suit threatening to close the jail leaving the county the choice of shipping prisoners to other locations and paying boarding fees for each prisoner or building a new jail. It could happen here also if we do not correct some required things before pumping up our tax rates with someone's pet projects.
In looking over my property tax bill for this year I have observed that if the pool bond and levy were to pass I will be paying more for it than for the emergency services portion (police, fire, ambulance) on my yearly tax bill. That's a wrong priority in my book!
Another thing that I hear a lot of when trying to justify the pool is, "it's for the kids." Perhaps you should look at your tax bill and you may discover that approximately 70 percent of what you pay is for the kids right now. I urge all registered voters to cast your vote in this election.