Thursday, April 24, 2014

May 6, 2014 ballot: We're Broke

Times are tough all over according to the Sylvania Board of Education.  The Sylvania school system needs more money.  A lot more.  There's only one place to get that money, and that's from property owners in the school district.  Never mind that we're already over-taxed.  What matters is the school system, because it's for the children.

This all came about because of greed and the path of least resistance.  Greed, because if you're on the Board of Education your job is easier and a lot more enjoyable if you can fund some kind of program without cutting the funding for something else.  That way, everyone with their own personal agenda is satisfied and the board members will get re-elected next term.  This dovetails nicely into the path of least resistance because it's a whole lot easier to explain why the school system has no choice but to put another levy on the ballot rather than cut unnecessary services and eliminate extraneous personnel.

It's tough to get solid information about school funding and this levy, but I've found some.  In an article from the Toledo Blade, Sylvania Schools Levy Supporters To Greet Voters At Polls

According to the article, the school system has recruited volunteers to greet the voters and encourage these people to support this brand new levy, which is a 3.8 mill continual-operating levy.  That means that once it's voted in, we can't get rid of it.  There is absolutely no way to get a levy revoked.

What voters don't realize is that up until recently, the State of Ohio was picking up a portion of those property taxes, but as of July 2013 that activity is discontinued.

From the Toledo Blade on Monday, 7/29/2013:

Ohio Cancels Property Tax Rollback - Existing Levies To Get Funding Break, But New Ones Will Not

Many Ohioans didn't realize the state was picking up as much as 12.5 percent of their local property tax bills, one Senate Republican recently said.
Which is very likely the truth.  Most people get sick when they write that check for property tax.  How many taxpayers would take the time to see how the amount is calculated and if it's correct?  Not many, I'm thinking.

Local governments and schools heading for the ballot in November to ask voters to support new or replacement levies will have to tell them that the price tags attached will be higher than they were previously told. The taxpayer will pay the entire tab for any new taxes approved.
Which is only partially true.  Up until I found this article, I hadn't been aware of that particular circumstance.  All I'd heard was the usual mantra about needing more money and how none of this was the BOE's fault.  It was the Federal government, the State, the economy, the falling property values... anything but uncontrolled, irresponsible school spending.  At the root of this is the State of Ohio making cuts to education - except that it isn't.
The recently passed [Ohio State] budget contains $717 million more in basic per-pupil subsidies for K-12 schools over the next two years...
The State of Ohio is continuing to subsidize K-12 education.  That includes Sylvania.

One item that is never spoken of, and I kind of think might be the dirty little secret that the Sylvania Board of Education wants to suppress is the current tax rate.  Information on this is hard to find, but what I did manage to find is worth reading. From the Toledo Blade on Monday, 1/27/2014:

Auditor Gets Sylvania Tax Measure - Schools To Seek Additional $4.9 Million Levy To Avoid Deficit In ’16

The article states that the school system doesn't need the money right this instant, which is what they would have us believe.  No, they say they need the additional money to avoid a deficit in 2016.  In plain English, they say if they don't get more money now, right now, in 2016 they'll be spending more money than they are taking in.  Running in the red, so to speak.  To my way of thinking, this gives them two years to decide just which expenses they'll cut back on.

So how much are we taxed right now?  According to the article:

The Sylvania schools now collect 44.98 mills of operating levies, all continuing.

Compare that to the measly 3.8 mills they are asking for now, and it doesn't seem like much.  It's only an increase of 8.44%, but that's how levies work.  Just increase the tax a little at a time and maybe no one will notice.  Until they try to buy groceries, that is.

We've been through this entire business before.  Again, according to the article:
Its most recent new levies were 4.9 mills each, passed in 2004 and 2011.
Just three years ago a new levy barely passed, and they had to hold a special election to do it.  That levy was supposed to 'stabilize everything', according to the school board.  But now they're back again, asking for more money.

So how much will a property owner be paying?  If your property is worth $100,000.00, you'll be writing the Sylvania school system a check for $4,878.00, and because the State of Ohio is no longer covering a part of your property tax, you'll be paying the entire amount.

There is still a significant portion of retired people in Sylvania, or people who have moved here and are not wealthy.  An extra $5,000 a year goes a long way towards a nice life.  You can forget that, though, and it's because of the school system.  They don't care if you're poor, if you're retired or laid off or have other expense.  Their attitude: Too bad.  Pay me.  Just be thankful I'm not asking for more.

My family has lived in Sylvania for over 50 years, but it's getting to the point where we are being taxed out of our own home, and we're being forced out by an elite cadre of elected officials who don't give one final damn whether we stay or leave, so long as their hog trough is full.

If you would like to write these people and share your views on lower taxes and responsible government, here's a list of email addresses:

Sylvania Board of Education

Jim Nusbaum, President

Julie Hoffman, Vice President

David Spiess

Vicki Donovan Lyle

Stephen Rothschild

Sylvania Township Trustees

John Crandall

John Jennewine

Neal Mahoney

All three turncoats trustees have publicly supported the new school levy, I suppose because it means more money for the government.  Never mind the constituents that have to live with it.  They'll get along just fine.

The real truth is that if this levy fails two things will happen.  One, there will be a special election held at a time when voter turnout opposing the levy is likely to be very low.  Two, there will not be any change in the performance of the Sylvania school system.  Of course you can't convince the school board of that, but it's true none-the-less.

Vote no.  Tell them that they've got enough money already, and that they can learn to live within their means.  Like the rest of us.


CWMartin said...

I always wondered why you'uns across the state line shot down so many levies. Now I know.

Mad Jack said...

We don't shoot down enough by half, but some are harder to hit than a fast moving battue at 50 yards.

What really gets under my skin is that we, the property owners, have very little say in the taxation rate that applies only to us. Renters get a free ride.