The school board is wanting to wait before voting on the bond issue again. I am glad they are taking another hard look at the real needs of the district before jumping into a vote just to get “in on some good deal” from the state. It seems the new members are taking their time to learn the real needs of the district then decide what to put forward.
We have also heard about the AC issue at the high school. The unit is over 20 years old and has reached the end of its useful life and a repair is unworkable because of the actions of the EPA. The overlords at the federal level deemed R-22 refrigerant that has been used since the 30’s was causing 0.1% of the ozone hole. To remedy this they outlawed R-22 and it can’t be sold after 2020. So now the end users who used to be able to buy a relatively inexpensive repair part for an AC have to instead put a completely different type of system. These are the unintended consequences of bad decisions made by a governing body. In this case it is an unelected branch of the federal bureaucracy making all of our lives much more expensive. By the way, if you have an AC system on your house that is more than 10 years old, you can expect a huge bill if it needs any compressor work done.
The same thing has happened at the city level and we are living it now. At one time they were discussing up to a 6 mil increase (about 10 percent) in the city portion of our taxes. Now they have brought that down significantly. About 3 mill of increase is due to the back ending of debt service taken on to build amenities like the golf course, Meridian Center, logistics park. To be fair the golf course and Meridian Center were never supposed to be profit centers for the city, but I believethey should at least carry their weight. The logistics park on the other hand was supposed to have millions of dollars worth of taxable structures there by now, slowly entering the tax rolls and helping out. Instead we have millions of back ended debt that you and I have to carry.
The city wants to add more staff and amenities, but if we can’t afford what we have now why add? Outside agencies are all clamoring for their funding as well, but in times when things are tight, maybe they should just do their part and find another funding source. If the people who really want the services provided by these agencies want to continue them, they might be able to find another way.
The school district should take a look at their spending as well. There are so many layers of bureaucracy now in the district buildings compared to 20-30 years ago with what result? Are the kids coming out better educated? Are they more prepared for college or a trade? If the answer is no then maybe a complete change in philosophy is in order. The old way doesn’t seem to be working, more money doesn’t seem to be working, maybe a better more efficient approach is needed. If they had serious competition that would help.
Perhaps a way to increase competition without altering the stranglehold government education has on our kids is to not only take the state dollars with a kid, but the district dollars as well if they go to another school. For instance, if I choose to send my children to Hesston, even though I live in 373 tax district, not only does my state and federal money go to Hesston, but so does my district portion (not just what I pay but what the district averages in collections). That would force some serious competition without infringing on their monopoly too much.
No matter what we do going forward, we will always be paying for the past mistakes of our dear leaders. I just hope we can get through these rough times without driving away too many taxpayers and that our future leaders remember this when they vote in better times to spend our hard earned money.
— Jason Mitchell is a member of the Harvey County Republican Party leadership team. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.