School Funding Ballot Measure Fuels Opposition
WC-1 has supporters and opposition from community members before it reaches a vote in November.
In November, Washoe County voters will be facing a ballot measure that would raise the sales tax to fund school maintenance and construction. While supporters are saying it's absolutely necessary to prevent double sessions, the opposition begs to differ.
In the last couple of months, a coalition called Save Our Schools (SOS Washoe) has formed to campaign for the ballot question, along with several local businesses getting on board with it. But now there's formal opposition to the initiative.
Jeffrey Church, of RenoPublicSafety.org, is leading the opposition for WC-1. He says, "It's a terrible, terrible bill. It's not true at all."
Last year the Public Schools Overcrowding and Repair Needs Committee was created to research and come up with solutions for the situation in Washoe County. That committee came up with the $781 million figure that the tax initiative would fund.
But Church says if WC-1 passes, there wouldn't be a sunset on it. Which basically means once the district reaches its goal, the tax from the ballot measure could continue.
"Its not 781 million. It's billions and billions," said Church.
The district isn't hiding the fact that there isn't a sunset.
"To do a sunset, would be very difficult. All the projections for the 781 million right now is based on a 20 year bond," said Pete Etchart, the Chief Operating Officer with the Washoe County School District.
Etchart adds that if voters needed to vote on it again in the future, they could.
And while the school district can't advocate for WC-1, Etchart says they can talk about the need for school construction and repair funding.
But the opposition says they have several more problems with the ballot question.
Church says, "It can't be used for principals, but it can be used for salaries for repair people, repair administrators, project managers, anybody who's remotely related to repairs, renovations."
Money raised in the measure would go toward the capital fund only, things like construction and school repairs. Etchart says Church's argument is misleading.
"The only positions that can be paid for with this funding will be those related to building schools, repairing schools, renovating schools. It is set up by state laws as far as how we can utilize this money," said Etchart.
Church adds that he supports the need for more school funding, but says we don't need the 781 million quoted by the school overcrowding committee. He claims the school district receives enough money from property taxes.
Senate Bill 207, which passed last year, does provide 38.85 cents for every hundred dollars of assessed valuation on your home.
But Church says, "If we get all this money from SB 207, we've got all the money we need for repairs and renovations."
Etchart argues that that will not generate enough money to build new schools.
WC-1 Support: SOS Washoe: http://soswashoe.com/
WC-1 Opposition: Reno Public Safety: http://renopublicsafety.org/school-tax.html