Levy to aid homeless a bad idea at a bad time

It will be instructive to see whether the Kitsap County commissioners are merely humoring local social service advocates or they’re tone deaf enough to actually approve a ballot measure to aid the homeless population.

Against the backdrop of county residents already incensed that their annual property tax bills have skyrocketed even as the real value of their homes and commercial buildings has plummeted, the commissioners are expected to hold a public hearing by Aug. 8 on a proposal to place a levy request on the November ballot that would raise property taxes even further to supplement existing public assistance for the homeless.

Advocates say the measure is needed because difficult economic times have put more people on the streets while state and federal funds to help them have dried up.

Kitsap property owners already pay 1 cent per $1,000 of assessed valuation into a Veterans Assistance Fund, which raised $319,000 in 2011 to benefit homeless veterans.

But those pushing the levy idea are envious of a similar tax in King County that imposes a rate five times as large to aid homeless veterans and non-veterans alike.

Compassionate though they may be, it’s hard to imagine county voters already staggering under the weight of their current tax burdens approving anything that would increase them in order to publicly fund causes more appropriately handled by private charitable organizations.

Consequently, it would be nice if the commissioners gave the levy backers a polite but firm no when the question is raised.

But we’re guessing they won’t.

More likely, they’ll pass the buck to the voters and spend thousands of dollars the county doesn’t have to run a levy with little or no chance of passing if the alternative is appearing less than generous.

Then again, it’s always easier to be generous when you’re doing it with someone else’s money.

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