The school board has decided to call a special election on February 4th to get permission to raise taxes on property owners for the next ten years. They were declined on September 10th. February 4th can be pretty blustery and blizzardlike, so I am hoping for good weather so rural residents and elderly folks will get to vote.
I think I have made it clear that I think it is a very poor way to treat citizens to do what that school board is doing. On September 10th, 2013 they asked the voters, what we wanted to do for the next ten years. Do we want to pay more and more taxes the next ten years? We declined and said no. That was our desire for the next ten years. Now, not a half a year later, and we are voting on the exact same question. It seems to me if the term we were deciding was for ten years, then it should be for ten years. If we had said yes, it would have meant yes for the next ten years, why is it that when we say no, it doesn't even mean more than 6 months, and we have to vote again? And again I ask-when they eventually get what they want, can we call a vote on it five or six months later and recall it, seems only fair since they are calling for a vote on it every six months until they get their way.
So I decided to do a little checking. To be fair, I wondered if the school is getting more children? If so, then maybe they need more money. So I went to the Iowa Department of Education and used their numbers. Interestingly, numbers are down. So then I thought maybe they have lost revenue, so I checked to see if revenues were down, and even more interesting, they are not--they are at an all time high. So we have less kids than 10 years ago and more money, yet they want to raise taxes. I have cited my sources for everyone to look at themselves and I have put it in a simple graph so that you can see clearly what I am talking about, the school board has more money than ever and the least kids they have had in at least a decade. They don't need to raise taxes. Simple math tells you that the most revenue ever, plus fewer children enrolled every year, equals bad money management and no need to raise taxes.
A final thought that's not too hard to imagine here in our district,-- but imagine if you will, a little old widow lady living in the house she and her late husband worked their whole life for. She has her house, maybe it's pretty nice and paid for, and a fixed income, but not a lot to spare, after all she and her husband worked hard their whole life, she ought not have to work. She has no job but no kids in the home or school-- I don't think it is at all decent to be sending her another $200.00 bill every year, on top of her current prop taxes. Especially considering enrollment in the district is down, revenue and expenditures are at all time highs, and quite frankly there is a lot of land in the district that isn't even taxed at all. If anything, maybe we need to look at some of the tax exempt land that ought to be on the tax rolls. Or maybe explore why so many kids are open enrolled. Or why South Tama is consistently considered a SINA or DINA and is well below the state's average reading and math proficiencies. The answer to that is not, we need more money.
The schools own enrollment numbers and projections-- www.edinfo.state.ia.us/web/projection11.asp
The states audit of STC- page 55 schedule 7 auditor.iowa.gov/reports/1230-6098-C00F.pdf
Adam Todd is a rural Tama farmer and pastor of the Solid rock Bible Church in Toledo.