Thursday, May 22, 2008

What it's all about

I love posting about family activities. I love the self-indulgent "look-at-my-awesome-kid" posts. :-) Things like that just make me smile.

However, desperate times call for desperate measures. Saddle up for a serious post. I don't do this all that often. ;-) There will be another one that follows this, too, related more to psychology. Aren't you excited?!! Heh.

So, now that you've been warned...

The aforementioned "letter" to the editor has been published in two papers thus far. And the responses have been pouring in. Mostly good, a few disagreements, and a few personal attacks. I'll get to that next.

I might as well bite the bullet and let you know what all this is about. It's about school and taxes. Specifically, it's about raising taxes to pay for a new high school. It's complicated because people on both sides of the issue have good motives. Obviously the school is practically falling apart. It was pathetic when I was there, and it's not getting any better. So there are good motives behind wanting a new school. That is not my argument.

I take up issue with the taxes. Taxes. Ugh. We're talking about increasing property taxes. The property tax is especially onerous in that it continues to tax us for something we already own. Unlike payroll and sales taxes, it increases taxes for people who haven't increased their income or their consumption. More and more of their money goes to the government just because they continue to own something. This hurts low-income property owners (my family!) and retired people (who are often on a fixed income) the most. We can't afford more money on our property, especially with the cost of food, gas, etc going up.

Our city's property taxes are already high. The average school district millage rate in Arkansas is 35.84. Ours is 39.6, which is more than 10.5% higher.

The average total millage, including city millage, in Arkansas is 43.39. Ours is 46.7, which is 10.7% higher. You can read more about numbers here.

If the numbers hurt your brain, just know that we're already paying a lot. The problem is that, although the tax base has grown, and more tax is being collected, it cannot legally be used for new buildings. Now, this sounds like a messed up system to me. I think everyone, on both sides, would agree that the way this is done does not make sense. The real problem here is allocation of funds not lack of them.

There is enough tax money, but we can't legally use it, so we need to collect more tax money. Make sense? No, I didn't think so. But that's the way it's done. And ask yourself this: if the millage goes up, do you think it will ever come back down? This is permanent! And money isn't growing on trees! If only...

Again, I'll say that I'm NOT against a new school. I'm just against using property taxes to do it. I think it should be funded differently and with less expense.. Right now property tax seems to be the only option. So can we just put our effort and time into getting that changed? In the meantime, I feel the obligation to protect my home. I've thought about this, prayed about this, accepted godly advice from friends. I am praying simply for God's Will to be done in this matter. I will pray, I will vote, and then I will leave it in the Lord's Hands. Can anyone argue with that? (Don't answer that, if you're feeling at all riled up!)

Early voting June 3-9. Voting day is the 10th.


Anonymous said...

Okay, I know I should write my own editorial, but I've just gotta say it (in case someone reads these comments). It's time to limit the "free" public education to legal US resident children of legal US residents and citizens... if the kids not a child of a legal US resident or citizen... close the door! Right there, the crowding goes WAY down! The cost of education goes way down... the millage (based on this post) remains the same.

Shan said...

Thanks for explaining your views more extensively Wendy. I haven't looked at those numbers but I shall give it a look-see right now. I appreciate you using your brain to better our community's awareness on these serious issues. Great post Wendy!

WendyJanelle said...

Wanta really crunch some numbers? Look on page 4 of the linked document. See which one has the HIGHEST total millage by county for school districts! Yep, that's us!!-- at 61.8!
Can you say "Holy Cow" with me? And we wonder why we're all broke. So, should we vote to increase that? I mean, heck, we don't want to lose our status, do we? ;-)
Sooooo, where's all the money going anyway?

And, Shan, Thank you. I thought the post might be too...umm...deep for a blog. Too many facts, not enough humor to be of interest.

WendyJanelle said...

Tob, I wholeheartedly agree with you. If it's gonna be illegal, then let's not reward it. And if we're going to educate them all, then it shouldn't be illegal to be here. Something needs to change. Our laws make no sense. "Don't come over here illegally!!--but if you do, we'll pay your medical and educational expenses, and tax our own people to do it."