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Seventy percent of Lake Oswego deserves a 'big thank you'

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”

— Benjamin Franklin

A couple of years ago I was at my gym discussing local issues with a resident. When I told them that I supported our schools, had voted for the optional levy and all the bonds of the past 20 years, they simply replied “thank you.” Berg

I was stunned to hear that response. Why? It was the first time in 20 years any parent actually thanked me for supporting the schools, despite not having a child in the system. It turns out this resident was a parent that understood the economics of LOSD and truly appreciated the contribution the overwhelming majority of property owners make to the school system. It made me realize how few residents really understand the level of support for schools in our community. It also encouraged me to check my facts and engage more with school-related groups.

Seventy percent of property owners in Lake Oswego don’t have school-age children. Yes, that’s correct. The school system is supported by residents without school-age children. Think about that for a moment. It’s an overwhelmingly gracious level of support, by those not directly receiving a benefit through their school-age children. Many residents have never had any school- age children but still support LOSD by paying our higher property taxes. That’s a remarkable display of charity from the majority of Lake Oswego residents.

Why? It reflects our core values as a community and also our unique demographics. Lake Oswego values education because it is highly educated. In broad terms, two-thirds of our residents are college educated with one third having graduate degrees. That’s quite unique in Oregon and represents a core element of our “community character.”

The huge gap between households with school-age children (30 percent) and those without (70 percent) often stuns people when I mention it in explaining our community. They often cannot believe our schools would receive such support, given those statistics, because it represents an exceptional level of commitment, which often doesn’t exist in our society.

In November residents are being asked to approve a levy on their property, often called the “local option.” It represents a renewal of a significant additional tax on our properties. Traditionally LO has voted to support this “option.” Voter turnout is expected to be very low (28 to 32 percent) in an off-year election. However, five years ago the option passed with 43 percent of residents voting against it and no organized opposition. That’s not an insignificant amount of residents voting against the tax prior to the “great recession” and tax/fee increases at both the state and local levels.

I would strongly encourage the campaign supporting the local option levy to promote efforts expressing its appreciation to the majority of the community which actually pays for our schools. It will go a long way toward ensuring the option gets passed by overwhelming support.

It’s time LO reaffirms its support for our schools through a vote by the majority of all our residents. That will go a long way toward preserving our “community character.” The next time you meet someone in the 70 percent, remember, a simple thank you will do.

Feel free to visit the COLA blog at commonsenselo.blogspot.com.

Dave Berg is a 22-year resident of Lake Oswego, a board member of COLA LO and chairman of the Lake Oswego Budget Committee.



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