Letters to the Editor
Support Historical Society
Editor, The Sun:
I recently received the March newsletter from the Woodford County Historical Society, which included a listing of the current officers and directors. The Historical Society is blessed with outstanding leadership, which provides a vital service for our community and attracts many visitors to our county.
The Historical Society is worthy of the moral support of our community with an increase in membership ($25 for individuals and $40 for families), as well as the financial support of our city and county governments.
Joe D. Gormley
“Steep price” if school tax fails
Editor, The Sun:
The petition to withdraw the 5.5 (cents per $100 property tax increase) voted on by our school board has raised much interest to say the least. I would like to address both the petition and the tax.
As to the petition, the tax was legally and fairly and properly decided upon by our school board (a decision which is their express right, if not mandate, as our elected representatives to consider in time of need). The election ballot box can fix any perceived overreach.
The current, well-worn high school was built in 1964. Much has changed in education since then and, though our teachers are second to none, updated science/engineering labs, performing arts spaces, and more open learning spaces for collaborative teaching efforts are tools our teachers and students sorely miss. Our local planning committee, comprised of parents, teachers, administrators, community members, and a representative of the local planning and zoning office, has this as our top priority for county development. This vision builds on the dream partially brought to fruition by construction of the new middle school on 34 acres of land adjacent to 61 acres purchased in 2012 to accommodate a high school on centralized schooling campus that would bring obvious efficiencies to such a campus.
Securing a bond for the projected $45 million cost of the high school is currently impossible. The construction of the middle school, two major renovations of Huntertown and Simmons Elementary schools, and HVAC projects at Northside and Southside have current bonding potential capped at about $13 million. The 5.5 cent facilities tax would immediately raise the bonding potential to nearly $50 million, a figure that would allow not only the high school, but also other pressing facilities issues to be remedied. Without the tax, it would take more than 12 years to reach a bonding level that would allow these facilities issues to be addressed. And that assumes no subsequent intervening emergent construction projects. A kindergartner of today would never experience the high school of tomorrow.
The $55 per year (hike) paid by an owner of a $100,000 home does not seem extravagant. But the price to our children’s futures, as well as the fiscal cost to our community which would suffer in attracting tax-paying residents and businesses, would be quite steep indeed.
School Board spending your money
Editor, The Sun:
Now the Woodford County Board of Education (WCBE) has voted to spend $5,000 of taxpayer money to convince the voters that a new school is needed and the only way to accomplish that is to tax Woodford County property owners. This is on top of the $50,000 they voted to spend, again with taxpayer money, to conduct a special election on June 26 to put the school facilities tax hike on the ballot. Had they waited until the election in November and the tax increase passed, the cost for the second collection of property taxes would have been an estimated $19,000. The WCBE is in such a hurry to get this tax passed by the voters that the expense to the taxpayers of Woodford County does not seem to be an issue to them.
When you see yard signs, bumper stickers, wrist bands and other campaign materials promoting the passage of the school facilities tax, remember you, the taxpayer, are financing this campaign as well as paying for the special election itself. Quoting (Superintendent Scott Hawkins) from the Woodford Sun, “As a school district, we will always try to find the best prices on anything we buy” - apparently, that does not include the cost of a special election or the promotion of their agenda.
The committee opposing the school facilities tax hike, Woodford County Taxpayers Against the WCBE Tax Hike, does not have a bank account nor taxpayer money to fund their campaign. If you see yard signs opposing this tax increase, remember they were paid for by private citizens out of their own pockets. Always remember, when the WCBE spends money it is your money!
Paul B. Stahler,
Know the school tax facts
Editor, The Sun:
It’s extremely important to have the facts regarding the proposed facility tax, unfortunately some people are spreading false information.
Here are some facts.
The proposal is 5.5 cents for every $100 of home value, not a 5.5 percent increase, as some would have you believe. If your home value is $200,000, your increase is roughly $9 a month. What a bargain.
The school board didn’t “keep the public in the dark” or “keep the public from voting” as some would have you believe. They did everything as mandated and did not break any rules. They couldn’t “offer it for public vote” - that’s not how it works.
The current school board hasn’t been wasteful as some would have you believe. Facts show how frugal the current board is. The cost of a special election pales in comparison to the cost of rerunning tax bills plus the increase in building expenses if the project is delayed even a few months. We all know how well our school system ranks in the state. They have served our students and community well in what appears to be a thankless job.
The old building isn’t worth the investment required to keep it serving the over capacity student body another 12-plus years. If ground doesn’t break now it will be 2030 before it can be considered again. The students of this county deserve better; this county deserves better. The new building will give kids more opportunities for success, and who wouldn’t want that, and who wants students in trailers when the building finally busts at its seams?
Have your opinions and debate, but do it honestly. Knowingly spreading false information about this issue to further your agenda is reprehensible. Using your voice in the community to mislead people is morally wrong... and to what end? Keep complaining about fast-food restaurants, what businesses are coming to town, but when it really counts, when the stakes are high and our students’ future is impacted, we should at the very least get the facts right.
My daughter will graduate before a new school is open if they broke ground today, so I’ll see no “personal benefit,” but we will all benefit.
If me being willing to pay for a school my daughter won’t attend makes me “selfish,” as I was called, so be it. I’ll be selfish on behalf of every student, gladly.