I have received a lot of questions in recent weeks from Kent residents who are unclear about the relationship between the city of Kent and the Kent School District. They are concerned about the school district’s direction. They are asking why the district is laying off employees after both of their levies passed, and they’re concerned the city will do the same thing if Proposition A passes.
First, I’d like to clarify that the city of Kent has no direct relationship to the Kent School District. While we appreciate their financial struggles, the Kent School District has its own elected board of directors, and the city has no control over their budget or the decisions they make in how to manage it. This includes the elimination of 45 positions announced in February or the 127 job cuts announced in March.
Second, I want to clarify questions I’ve received about Proposition A (KentWA.gov/PropA), the police and criminal justice ballot measure that will be on the ballot April 24. If Prop A passes, the city will increase utility taxes by 2 percent on electricity, manufactured and natural gas, telephone and cellphones and cable TV services. It is not a property tax, and it will impact those in Kent who use the utilities mentioned, including businesses.
The utility tax will raise approximately $4.8 million annually, and cost the average Kent household about $11 a month. This revenue will be used exclusively to pay for 23 commissioned police officers (21 patrol officers and two sergeants), two police corrections officers, two police records specialists, one prosecution attorney, one prosecution paralegal, one public defender, one judicial specialist and one probation officer. All funds received from the 2 percent increase in utility tax revenues will be segregated from other funds of the city and accounted for separately.
Public safety is the No. 1 priority for the city of Kent. If Prop A passes, we will not be laying off police officers. If Prop A doesn’t pass, we will not be laying off police officers. That is a promise.
– Mayor Dana Ralph