Paying it Forward

Tacoma's School Bond

January 24, 2013
Voters in the Tacoma Public School district will be voting on a massive $500-million bond issue to rebuild or renovate all but six of the schools in the district. It is a huge commitment for homeowners who are still struggling from the effects of the recession. But deferred maintenance has a cost too, and interest rates are at historic lows. What is the best course to take? Panelists for and against the measure speak their minds on this edition of Northwest Now.

Program will be available online immediately after broadcast.


If you've been watching this show for a while, you know your host is far from perfect. A case in point comes in this program where Ken Miller states, "The average family of four over the life of this bond is going to pay about 10,000 dollars, and that seems like a fair amount of money." I saw this number in the op-ed piece Ken did for the News Tribune and had it in mind to quiz him about it. But alas, I forgot all about it until it came up during the program - at which time I was probably remiss once again in not stopping him down to inquire about where that number comes from. So, better late than never, I contacted Ken via email to get some clarification. Ken wrote back and told me that he came up with the number by taking Tacoma's 200,000 population, dividing by four to get 50,000 families, and then dividing the bond measure's grand total by that number. The result is the $10,000 figure he earnestly cites. With that said however, it is this reporter's contention that in this case, we're measuring the length of a board with a scale instead of a ruler. The bond's payment scheme relies upon the paying a fixed rate on a property's assessed valuation. There is no regard given to population or imaginary families of four who may or may not reside in their homes for the duration of the bond's term. So while I appreciate Mr. Miller's recognition that boiling the numbers down to usable chunks is important, my intent here is to tell our viewers that the calculation in no way measures what it seeks to, and is therefore in my view, an invalid (in the statistical sense) assessment of the bond's impact on property owners.

Tom Layson


Proposition 1
Yes on Prop 1 - Renew Our Commitment

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