Save Oak Harbor's pool | Editorial
September 20, 2011 · Updated 3:01 PM
It’s understandable that people would rebel against taxes of all sorts in the midst of an economic crisis with no end in sight. But sometimes that anti-tax fervor can go too far and have unintended consequences, especially when voters don’t educate themselves. Take for instance the recent failure of North Whidbey Park and Recreation District’s renewal levy, which likely got caught up in the no-to-all-taxes ideology that seems to control half of the political spectrum.
As a result, district officials are discussing what options they have if the measure fails again in the general election. One possibility they are considering is to simply close the pool in Oak Harbor because they don’t have the funds to run the facility without the levy, which brings in $550,000 a year.
The renewal levy, which wasn’t even a tax increase, would have supported the popular John Vanderzicht Memorial Pool, as well as the district’s lesser-known programs. District leaders say that many of the people who voted against the levy didn’t even know they were voting against the pool since they don’t associate “North Whidbey Park and Recreation District” with “swimming pool.”
Fortunately, leaders of the district had the foresight to place the measure on the general election ballot in case it failed to reach the 60 percent supermajority in the primary election, which it did. It received 56.7 percent of the vote. Its success in the general election is far from guaranteed.
District officials are now looking at contingency plans in case the measure fails again, but the options are limited. Raising swimming fees too far would probably drive people away. The district had no success in the past with finding a private company to take over pool operations. Closing or mothballing the facility may be the only options.
The good news is that a team of volunteers are busy with plans to promote the levy. We wish them luck.