Tomorrow our city votes on a proposed 2.4 mill increase to our property taxes. The bulk of the money will be used to build new (badly needed) middle and junior high schools, but a not insubstantial chunk will be used to build a new football stadium and other athletic facilities for our newer high school, and upgrade the football stadium of the older high school.
I am not going to use this blog to either support or criticize the proposal, partly because I don't want a bunch of drama, but mainly because I have mixed feelings about it. One the one hand, overcrowding in our schools is a continual problem, and I do not really want my kids in classes with 60 kids. On the other hand, I feel like we're getting a little played by the way they lumped in the frills with the needs. At any rate, I can certainly understand reasonable arguments on both sides.
The mill increase means property taxes would go up $4 per month for every $100,000 worth of property owned--doesn't seem exhorbitant. However, the way people are going on about it, you'd think we were being asked to take out second mortgages in order to avoid the total shutdown of the school system. I've listened to most of the dialogue with a fair amount of interest, though sometimes people use arguments that I find extraordinarily irritating. And talking about things that irritate me is much more what this blog is about!
Here are the arguments from each side that most make me want to bang my head against a wall:
1. Do NOT tell me I shouldn't vote for the millage because "we pay enough taxes already." That's like telling your 10 year old son that you aren't going to buy food for him anymore because you just bought his 16 year old sister a car and you're tired of spending so much on your kids. If you have reviewed the proposal and you don't believe the district needs the things the millage will pay for, fine. But to oppose a tax on the general premise that you just don't like being taxed is silly.
2. Do NOT tell me I should vote for the millage if I support education and my school district. This one really bugs me. I think a lot of people feel like they have to vote for any education millage because they don't want to be thought of as the jerk that doesn't want their city to have good schools. There's a lot of bullying going on in this department, and I don't like it one bit. Voters were presented with a complete package--one option to vote for. It IS possible to want more money spent on our district, but to oppose spending so much on athletic facilities, or to oppose the amount spent to build each school (our newer schools do look very mansion-ish), or to wonder out loud why other areas that it seems should be higher up on the priority list aren't. We don't get to vote on tweaking the budget, or approve part of the projects but not all of them. So to criticize someone for not immediately jumping on the millage bandwagon because the phrase "more money for schools" is used is just ridiculous.
So! According to these arguments, if I support the millage I'm a greedy tax loving hoarder, and if I oppose it I'm a freeloading unsupportive education hater. Peachy.
Well! It feels good to get that off my chest. This time next week, regardless of what happens, the millage won't be news any more. There will undoubtedly be some other controversial issue that will have everyone worked up into a lather. I can hardly wait.