A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library. ~Shelby Foote

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

When the Government Lies

Hooked ya, didn't I tc? No, I'm not talking about George Bush or the NSA or Dick Cheney or any of that. This is closer to home, and it's doubly galling because my school district-- the agency charged with imparting education and analytical thinking to my children-- is willfully and disingenuously twisting the facts to benefit themselves.

I hate that.

Here's the deal. In the spring of 2004, the voters agreed via a referendum to raise an extra $6.45 million for the school district for the July 2004-June 2005 fiscal year. That comes to about $33 extra per $100,000 in valuation for your property, or roughly $50-$70 for most district residents. As of July 1, 2005, that referendum expired, so last spring, the school district threw a big enough tantrum (we'll cut sports, we'll hold our breaths until we turn blue, we'll show up at your summer parties and complain!) that voters agreed in June 2005 to renew that tax increase from the year before. This was after the referendum was defeated the first time through in April.

All of which was really annoying. The district asked for the money, the voters said no. So, the district just asked again. What part of No didn't they understand?

But even more annoying, was that the district sent out mailers claiming they weren't increasing our taxes. They were asking for $6.45 million more than the state mandated limits allowed, but it wasn't an increase because it was merely the same amount as last year's increase. So, the amount they asked for hadn't actually gone up. Never mind that the amount we'd be taxed was $33 per $100,000 of valuation more than we'd have to pay if the referendum failed. I will grant you that there was no increase of the increase, but to claim that there was no increase is a lie.

And it worked. The referendum passed-- the second time, after they hit on the idea of billing a continuing increase as not an increase at all.

So, naturally, this year, they decided to try again. The district is asking for a contiuation of the $6.45 million dollar referendum, and they bill it this way:
There will be NO INCREASE in your school taxes as a result of this referendum, since it replaces dollar-for-dollar the expiring June 2005 referendum amount of $6.45 million. [Their emphasis]
Which, I'm sorry to say, is a lie. A lie they repeat FOUR times in the flier. As of July 1, 2006, that referendum expires, and my school taxes go back to their base amount-- about $45 less than what I paid in 2005. The NEW referendum asks me to agree to increase my school taxes back up to the 2005 levels.

That's an increase.

To say it isn't is either a lie, or math so bad it would make the Journal Sentinel proud. Either way, I won't be voting to increase funding to a school district that is either stupid, a bunch of lying liars, or both.


Nah. didn't hook me. To be completely cynical, in these days it is pretty much obvious to all but about 29% of the electorate that Government Lies. As a matter of fact, I think even most of that 29% also realize that, they just support the lies.

It's no secret that large segments of suburban residents ALWAYS vote against school referendums. It's why they have to resort to subterfuge to avoid wholesale degradation of the public school systems.

Hooking school improvements up to property taxes maybe used to make sense. But in today's environment, it's a ludicrous way to finance infrastructure.

It would be great if there was someone with the political brass to advance a wholesale change to the financing structure.

But the political structure won't support that kind of proposals, when the Elected are more concerned about being re-elected than the real concerns of their constituents.
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