Revving a local economy

By Marianne Lincoln

Have you thought much about what it takes to make your local community successful?
People in the community who are employed, with money in their pockets, shop at local stores, gas stations and restaurants. That, in turn, raises tax money to go back into the community. Quite simple, actually.

So to make our local community successful, who is providing the jobs? The biggest employer in the Spanaway, Frederickson, Roy and Graham vicinity is… the Bethel School District. The money you pay in taxes for their levies and bonds circulates right back into your local economy. That money doesn’t just support kids and schools. That is quaint and correct, but simply not the whole picture.

In the economic disaster of 2008 to 2012, the Bethel voters had recently passed a bond (2006). The community was a major economic hub to electricians, plumbers, roofers, bricklayers, tile setters, painters, and many other crafts people that needed work. Most of those people live right here, shop in our community and use our services. That means, the money we spent for schools paid salaries for teachers, secretaries, maintenance people, administrators, bus drivers, mechanics and construction workers that live here in south Pierce County. They, in turn, spent their money on other businesses in South Pierce County, helping to keep the disastrous economic situation from being worse here.

I know first hand, I was on the school board at the time (2009-2012) trying to wrap that tiny state and levy budget around all the things that schools are mandated to pay. We had tough decisions and tough cuts to make. But due to the bond, we were able to use the separate construction funds to give a lots of skilled crafts people jobs in that tough economy. It made the economic picture much clearer to me, seeing how that infusion of dollars went to work from their paychecks to the money circulating at stores, restaurants, hardware services and more.

So as you cast your ballots this week, think about the fact that although this is money out of your pocket, how that money, because it goes to the closest place to home, also comes back into your pocket. Money for our schools is about your neighbor’s job. Not just the neighbor that works for the school. It is also going into the pockets of the neighbors that provide services to the neighbors that work for the school, like the furnace guy and the plumber, the UPS driver, the waitress at the Little Park and the bartender at the Roy Pub. It goes all over the community and along the way, it helps educate our kids too.

You can certainly vote to shut off the spigot. But really, who do you hurt taking money our of your own neighborhood? How does that hole in your foot feel?

[Note: Bethel stated they have 2465 employees. They are the second largest school district in Pierce County, behind Tacoma. They are the 7th largest employer in Pierce County.]



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