It’s only another $10 or the cost of one pizza per month, aren’t the kids worth it?

That $10 magic number is based on a $100,000 value home.  That same home pays $1,850.00 per year in taxes in Newton.  When you start to add what all the local governing bodies want additionally it will be over $2,000 per year.  That is only $167 per month!  Wait, really, it is only $5.48 per day!  What is an extra few cents for the children?

We have heard this time and again from the school district, the city, the county when they want more of our hard-earned money.  Each time they pass or propose to the voters another increase it is always broken down to the smallest possible number to keep from scaring people. 

What you are never really told and what you are expected not to realize is that many of these increases never go away.  Bond payments usually have a life of 20 years or more, like what the school wants with the latest mill increase.  Many other increases are systemic and never go away, like the city wanting 2.3 mills.  The other thing not usually mentioned in these budget sessions is that values tend to go up every year 2 to 3 percent.  Not only do these government entities get more money through mill increases they also get increases from a natural increase in value.  There are many more houses in Newton worth 100K+ now than there were 10 years ago.

There was once a decrease in the city mill levy, by about 10 percent.  The 1 percent sales tax was passed a decade ago so that half would go to economic development and the other half would be for property tax relief.  Well, over the years we have not only exceeded our previous mill level we still pay the 1 percent sales tax on everything in town.  I voted for it because I pay a substantial amount of property tax, but in hindsight I was wrong to ever give the government more avenues to take my hard-earned profits.  This is something a good friend of mine will never let me live down, by the way!

There are many things the city, county and schools do that are good and necessary in my opinion.  Police, fire, roads and sanitary infrastructure are all necessary to keep us from living in huts and dying early from typhoid and marauding bands of Vikings. Education is critical to moving forward in a civil society.  Some things are necessary to have a government monopoly like police, fire, roads, sewer, etc.  There is no need to have two fire departments show up and fight each other to put out fires, which happened in early New York City history.  Education can be easily privatized but still paid for by taxes and the competition would only improve the end product.  Our city streets are built by the lowest bidder of several private contractors, but maintained by city staff.  

We are constantly reminded that these services cost more and necessarily must have more tax revenue to pay for.  I absolutely agree that the technology in the roads of today or the cost of outfitting a police cruiser is substantially higher than in the past when it was a brick road or a Dodge with a red light on top and a Motorola on the dash.  As we get used to more or better services we have to ask ourselves:  Do we really need all these amenities or can we do without some services? 

I was talking with some school friends of mine a short time ago and we were lamenting the heat this summer.  We had the conversation about how in Santa Fe Middle School (the Old-Old Newton High) during our middle school years we had no air conditioning.  I remember being in the third floor classroom with my back to the south facing window and a box fan whirring in the hot air.  I seem to remember learning just fine, but maybe it was because we had to walk uphill 10 miles in the 16 inch inch deep snow every day,  were we just a tougher lot than my kids?  Do I want to go back to sweat boxes for everyone?  No — but if the government keeps sucking money out of everyone’s wallet at a voracious pace it just might come to that when people are tapped out and quit paying taxes or leave town.

A short drive south of Wichita will land you in a town very similar to Newton with railroad heritage and a stagnant population.  Wellington has languished for decades and suffers under a massive tax burden that keeps new homes and businesses looking elsewhere.  Don’t let us get there, vote no on the school bonds and call your city/county representatives and let them know you don’t want any increases, let's learn to live with less!

— Jason Mitchell is a member of the leadership team of the Harvey County Republican Party. He can be reached by phone at (316) 680- 6456 or email jsmitch73@ hotmail.com.