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Property tax concerns on South Tama School bonds

February 2, 2020
Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

I want for people to have their new school. I really do. I wish you the very best. I just don't want to pay for it. At least not in a disproportionate manner, or against my will. This is not about a school, this is about how you're going to pay for it. Nobody is explaining anything. It's basically, "just shut up and trust us". I think I speak for many, many citizens within the district. Many people are in a position where they don't want to take a position that offends their friends or family, so they remain quiet but someone has to be the guy that will tell it like it is.

You don't have to look very hard to find well-meaning people dreaming of vast and wonderful things in a new school. They say things like 'we NEED this', and 'this is an investment for our kids and grand kids', and 'this will bring more revenue and pay for itself' and 'it's our turn' and 'we deserve it'. I have noticed that some of the most outspoken voices for going into deeper and deeper debt are from people who are on the government payroll. Getting a weekly or monthly check from the government must put you in a different state of mind. I wonder how they would feel if they actually had to generate their own capital instead of drawing it from the government. I have noticed that people who are paid by taxes are the first ones to want more taxes. The loudest voices I hear for more debt (taxes) are the people who are paid by either the school district, one of the cities or the county itself. This is completely an issue of the payers versus the receivers. I'm going to say it as kindly to all the people drawing government pay checks..... we are tired of taxes and funding your pet projects. I don't care how worthwhile your pet projects are. I don't care how much you think you deserve it. Radio systems, fire trucks, water treatment plants, school additions, swimming pools, daycares, or entire schools. ENOUGH. You are putting our property up as collateral for your stuff. When you say 'property taxes will not be raised' then immediately ask for the permission to raise the rate to 150% of what it currently is, that is a problem.

You guys get up in your little cliquey circles and conjure up dreams of grandeur then collect your government paychecks and vote everyone else into debt. I have already told you that is literally bullying. Ironically the schools are the ones who are supposed to be against bullying, but you are trying to impose your will on other people against their consent. That is bullying. If you could do it without a vote you would. That proves it's bullying right there.

Don't tell me property taxes won't go up. We're already one of the highest rates around. The fact will always be that if you spend 29 million on a school, that is 29 million you won't have available to service debt or operate on. So maybe you'll raise taxes to "operate on" instead of "building with", but in the end taxes are raised. In the end, when push comes to shove, our property is what is securing your bonds, that is why you legally have to ask our permission. Democracy is two wolves and a sheep voting on what's for supper. Property taxes are those two wolves deciding to leverage the sheep's property so they can build a fancy new school.

Here's what I suggest. All you folks that want a school should build it yourselves. If you want a 30 million dollar school, build it, then lease it back to the school district. If you truly want to invest, then you should have no problem doing this. Start an investment group. Sell 3,000 shares at ten thousand dollars a piece. You will quickly have your 30 million. Then lease the school back to the district and get your return. You can bank on yourselves, and the district won't go into debt. I have seen people almost crying because they need(want) a new school Those people should have no problem buying a few 10,000 dollar shares to show their support. They should be willing to go to their bank, borrow 50,000 against their OWN PROPERTY and then invest it into a school. After all- it's for the kids, and their 'grandkids', and you "deserve it" and "need it", or we 'need' to invest into the community. Borrow against your own property, then your property is at risk instead of mine. You are merely loaning money out. You would be receiving it right back when you leased it to the school district. With all the support you have amongst yourselves you should be able to pool 60 million! If you are all for it when someone else pays the most, are you still for it when you might have to actually pony up some cash? Sell shares and lease your building to the district, then you would actually be investing in the school. Voting for a bond might make you feel good, but you aren't actually doing anything to actually invest in a school. Anyone can vote. You aren't actually investing in the school if you vote yes, you are shifting your burden to someone else when you vote yes. All the people advocating for a new school ought to put up or shut up. If they can't come up with 50 grand to loan to the school then they don't have room to talk, and they are the exact people I am talking about. People who can't do it themselves but you want something so you charge it to other people. Werners Grain Elevator in Tama pays well over 50,000 dollars in property taxes EVERY YEAR and they don't get that back. There are farmers paying well over 50k a year and they don't get that back. You all ought to be willing to borrow 50k put it toward the school then get it back over the next 20 years from lease revenue. It's easy to want a new school when you aren't paying for it.

Next time you see someone telling you to vote yes because it's an investment, ask them how much they want to invest. Go through the names of everyone on the election petition and see how many of them would ACTUALLY invest. You'll see quickly how many people want OTHERS to invest.

We are told basically to just trust the powers that be. Well I would wonder if the teachers trust their own administration? Would the teachers be willing to de-unionize? Would the teachers trust the powers that be to take care of them? If the teachers de-unionized and then we got into trouble financially, we could give the teachers a paycut instead of raising property taxes. Would all the teachers and other government employees be willing to de-unionize? No.Theywouldn't. They're protected. They don't trust themselves. Property owners aren't protected at all. We get to vote no, that's it. No one's protecting the property owners.

I will say this, the property owners of this district are going to eventually get tired of funding pet projects. I hope it's not too late before we wake up. What happens if a tax revolt was organized and a few dozen of the abused property owners decided they've had enough and they were to withhold taxes. Are you going to foreclose on that many family farms to build your school? The shine will wear off a new middle school real soon, but the bill is going to be there for a long time. If things go south Jared Smith can quit and go south too, but the rest of us are going to have a 29 million dollar debt to pay(on top of everything else), and it's not the people with government jobs who's going to have to come up with the equity to repay bonds, it's the farmers, small business owners and retired people. If you have any honor at all, the minimum you can do is to vote no on question two on March 3rd.

Adam Todd

Rural Tama



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