A campaign against proposed school bonds next month in the Central Valley and Mead school districts became apparent over the weekend as some residents received fluorescent yellow fliers in the mail encouraging them to vote “no.”
The opposition is led by a trio who also came out against bond issues in Spokane, Central Valley and West Valley school districts in 2003.
Organized as Citizens for Responsible Taxation, the effort is led by Spokane residents John Beal and Marilyn Montgomery and former Alton’s Tires owner Duane Alton. None of them lives in the Mead district. Alton, who donated $25,000 to the campaign, lives in the Central Valley district, according to addresses they gave the state when they registered the group as a political action committee.
Alton and Beal did not return calls for comment Monday. Montgomery, the treasurer, declined to discuss the campaign but did confirm Alton’s donation.
The group mailed separate fliers opposing the bond proposals. Each one makes several claims labeled as facts: the bond is a multimillion-dollar tax hike; the tax will “destroy jobs & stifle job growth”; and “this new tax will make it even harder to make house payments.”
“The information is inaccurate,” said Ned Wendle, chairman of the Mead bond campaign.
Both bond issues would replace current bonds set to expire. While the Mead bond is a dollar-for-dollar replacement, the CV bond would raise property taxes by 60 cents per $1,000 of assessed value.
Ballots for both proposals were mailed Friday and are due back Feb. 8.
Damon Smith, who’s running the bond campaign in Central Valley, said supporters were taken aback by the fliers but “will not stay silent. We have mobilized to get the message out … with the facts.”
Central Valley’s proposed $69.9 million bond package includes building a new elementary school, renovating Ponderosa and Greenacres elementary schools, and renovating and expanding Evergreen Middle School and Chester and Opportunity elementary schools. It will cost property owners $2.30 per $1,000 of assessed value per year.
Mead’s $59 million bond would allow the district to update Midway and Shiloh Hills elementary schools and Northwood Middle School; upgrade technology; replace roofs and carpets; upgrade heating and cooling systems; and buy property for future schools. The current rate of $2.20 per $1,000 assessed value will remain the same.
A similar effort to defeat school bonds in 2003 was called STOP, for So Tired Of Paying. Voters in all three districts approved the bonds that year.
Anne Hedge, a Mead resident, received her second anti-bond flier in the mail Monday.
“What bothers me is this is what I’d consider sensationalism,” she said. “It’s really almost untruthful because of omission.”