Recently I attended a School Board meeting to ratify the School budget for 2009-2010. I was shocked to see only one other citizen from the county at this meeting. The discussion of a tax increase of 12% for the school district and the 6% increase in property values proposed for the next year sent mixed feelings.
Wake-up America, we are presently in one of the worst economies in over 30 years. The highest unemployment rate the state has ever seen. Home foreclosures keep growing. The FDIC has gone to the treasury department to borrow money to protect your money in the banks that have 100 banks now under Federal ownership. Land and home values have plummeted. Real estate markets have ceased to exist. If you doubt me, look at your newspaper since January and see how many homes, farms or ranches have sold in this county. Better yet, call one of your local real estate firms and talk to our local agents. Our taxing entities seem to forget everything in this world cycles; good times as well as bad. Rainy-day preparation seems to be a thing of the past. I know it is hard to operate a school district; just like it is hard to operate a business or household in this economy. We all have to do our part to operate our entities in a responsible manner.
I don't want you to read this and think that I am a negative person that does not have an understanding of how the real world works. One of the questions I asked at the school board meeting was how much of the money expected by this tax increase would be applied to the principal of our new administration building and gymnasium, (which cost 3.2 million dollars 4 years ago). 1.4 million was pulled from school funds and applied to the note, leaving a balance of approximately 1.6 million this year. This making the yearly note $166,000.00 for 20 years. I was also shocked to find out that most local citizens and business people do not realize this property is under a lease-to-purchase agreement. That's right, the school district does not own these properties until the lease is fulfilled in approximately 2023. A small notice was placed in the newspaper to notify the community of the school districts intentions to build these structures without a special election, (all legal). I was unable to find one person that read this notice.
Mrs. Glaze, our school superintendent, seems to be doing a great job handling the affairs of our schools and should be commended for her job. It is a tough job that requires intelligence as well as common sense. She has tried to be transparent in the schools dealings, but the community involvement is non-existent. Don't gripe and blame when you have been too lazy to attend these meetings that will effect your wallet. Mrs. Glaze has been actively writing letters in her column about the upcoming election. If you have not taken the time to read her column, I urge you to read the September 17th issue of the San Saba News. She has spent a lot of time and energy to inform you.
Still there are questions that need to be answered about the usage of the $462,058.00 generated by this proposed tax increase and state funds included in this amount. By the way, the $268,618.00 are paid by you...the state tax payers. Although student numbers have declined over the years, this years enrollment remains close to the same as last year. This meaning: state funding per student will remain the same. The cuts that were mentioned in her letter were made over the last 2 years. What cuts were made this year? A new $84,000 school bus was purchased last year, but it is my understanding the district is looking at buying a couple of new vehicles this year. I would like to know what kind, how much and what for. As a tax payer, I would like to know how much of the $462,058.00, if approved, will be allotted to the principal payment of the administration and gym buildings, and what is the target date to pay off these structures. She also mentioned the plans for a new elementary school in the near future. Don't be fooled, there will have to be a new tax election to fund this project. Estimates range between $5 million and $7.5 million to build this facility. This would mean a substantial tax increase in the next three years.
I am not saying I will vote for or against this tax increase proposal Oct. 6th, but better answers need to be furnished to make me feel this tax increase is necessary. Our teachers received a $800.00 pay raise from the state this year and our school district provided another $250.00 per teacher. You the tax-payer paid for it. I think the teachers deserve every dollar they receive, but over 10% unemployment means over 1.8 million taxpaying workers no longer have a job to contribute to these funds. Guess who is paying? YOU!
Everything has a limit before it breaks; and this system is pushing the breaking point. So, I suggest, we put on the brakes and really think about the effects all these decisions will have on our future. I urge you to attend the meeting scheduled for Sept. 29th at 6:30 p.m. in the San Saba High School Cafeteria. You owe it to our kids, our school employees and yourself to have better understanding of these issues; and by all means, get off your rears and vote. Early voting begins Sept. 21st thru Oct. 2nd. Election day is Oct. 6th.
This is important, not only to you, but to your children and grandchildren!
Concerned San Saba County Tax Payer
Political Ad paid for by Russell Gibson