Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Offering public transportation throughout Okanogan County is a worthwhile goal. But in considering our economic status, wide-spread population and large geographic coverage area, we don’t think Proposition 1 will be sufficient to attain the bus service suggested by the Okanogan County Transit Authority.
Therefore, rather than endorse the proposed fourth-tenths of 1 percent tax measure, we recommend use of the transportation services offered by Okanogan County Transportation and Nutrition. The service is available to all residents for a small fee.
Proposition 1 would create an unsustainable service that most likely will become a tax burden. That would give public transportation a bad name and make it more difficult to organize and operate a sustainable public transit system when the economy and population grow.
In short, we oppose Transportation District Proposition 1.
Vote yes on sales tax levies
Omak, Tonasket and Brewster are all asking voters to approve a one-tenth of 1 percent sales tax increase to help fund criminal justice and fire protection. The taxes require that one-third of the money collected be spent on police and fire. While the other two-thirds goes into the general fund, there’s a good chance that money would also be spent on police protection.
Although we don’t support the idea of raising taxes on residents, these sales taxes are fairly minimal — just one penny per $10 spent — but over the course of a year, they can amount to a significant chunk of money. Omak expects to bring in about $75,000 in the first year and $120,000 each year after that if the voters approve the increase.
That first year won’t be enough to cover the cost of an officer, taking into account salary, benefits and training, but it will have an impact on the city’s overstretched budget, and could help make the city safer for its residents.
Increasing the sales tax also aligns Omak, Tonasket and Brewster with the tax rate for other cities in the area, including Okanogan.
Based on the minimal rate increase and the benefit it could provide to the cities, we support the Proposition 1 for Omak, Tonasket and Brewster.
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Omak-Riverside Eastside Road helicopter water drop
Short clip of a helicopter dropping water on the Tunk Block Fire today along Omak-Riverside Eastside Road. Enlarge