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Voters should reject another MCCSC tax hike
What is the emergency that this must be on a city election ballot, when county residents have no other reason to go to the polls?
MCCSC just had a tax increase referendum a year ago, which voters approved. Now they are going back to the voters again to ask for another tax increase in another referendum. Because this is a city election and there is no countywide election this year, MCCSC has to pay to open voting precincts outside of the city. I inquired as to how much this will cost, and the county clerk's office informed me they do not know. The cost will be determined after the election is over.
The bulk of the funds for this year's referendum is for a "wish list." $6 million would go toward establishing a pre-k program. Half of the remaining $2.5 million would go to "instructional materials, testing fees and student technology devices" and the other half would go to reducing tuition and fees for career and technical education.
Here is the problem: Inflation is squeezing many families' budgets, and the caps on the property tax rate have been circumvented by dramatic increases in assessed evaluation. If a home's assessed value has doubled over the last decade - which many have due to the tight housing market - property taxes have also doubled. But increases in "wealth" (the value of a home) do not bring a corresponding increase in income. The homeowner's income could go up or down.
There is also the issue of trust. A year ago, MCCSC was allegedly unable to determine how much was spent to produce a political mailing encouraging people to vote for the referendum. The issue I raised then is still relevant: If MCCSC cannot be trusted to keep track of what they are spending, why should they be granted another $8.5 million in an odd-year referendum?
The timing is suspicious. The school board just asked for a tax increase referendum a year ago, which passed. What is the emergency that this must be on a city election ballot, when county residents have no other reason to go to the polls? Even 83% of city voters have no other reason to go to the polls, since there is no competition for any citywide offices and only 1 of 6 city council districts has any competition. Why could this not wait until 2024, when we already have a countywide election and the school system does not have to pay for extra polling places?
Should MCCSC be operating a preschool program at all? There is no long-term academic benefit to sending a child to preschool. According to Vox, "By kindergarten much of their advantage has receded, and by second grade researchers typically can’t detect it at all." If there is little or no academic benefit - which is the entire point of the public education system - then what we have is a glorified daycare. To be sure, child care is a struggle for many families (especially single parents) but a property tax increase during vulnerable economic times is not the best way to address that issue.
This is the wrong project, at the wrong price, at the wrong cost. Voters should reject the school board's latest cash grab and vote "no" on the property tax increase referendum.
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