Renewing tax will put our children in debt

Published 11:08 am Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Dear Editor,

I just read your article, titled “Education tax an ‘investment’ into county’s future, superintendent says” and wanted to make the following observations:

The superintendent appears to be using typical “scare tactics” to get people to vote “yes”:

“If we don’t have this, there will be no building because there will be no funding.”

An alternative 10-year extension would provide $750 million to build/improve schools.

“The investments include: capital improvements such as classroom additions, new schools and modernizing existing schools; programs such as technology for classrooms, gifted education, special education, career and technical education and English as a second language; personnel such as art teachers, music teachers, physical education teachers and additional instructors.”

Mr. Fuller contradicts himself here by admitting that the money being collected is not just for building schools but for other things as well.

“Someone who owns a $100,000 home would pay $300 a year.”

Only problem is that the average citizen of Shelby County doesn’t own a $100,000 home. The “average” home value is around $250,000. The average citizen would be subject to almost $700 tax burden.

“The tax renewal is essential, as the school system continues to grow along with the county. Even with a down economy, the school system grew by 400 students this year, he said.”

Each new student brings with them the equivalent of 72 percent of the budgeted cost per student.

But remember that many of the costs are fixed while the income they bring is not.

“If we can get this renewal passed now, we can continue to move forward without skipping a beat.”

Maybe we should pause a little and reassess our options.

We can move forward with a 10-year renewal, or a 15-year one just as well.

I’d also like to point out the following myths:

“Voting “Yes” on Feb. 8 will not result in a tax increase.”

Voting “Yes” will create a brand new tax liability. In other words, if people vote “yes,” they will be obligated to pay more taxes than they currently are obligated to pay.

“Without the renewal new schools cannot be built or current ones improved.”

Of the $74.9 million received in 2009 by the BOE via the 30-mill tax, only $6,872,900 was used for capital outlays — less than 10 percent of the tax collected.

To be clear, I am not opposing school funding and I am supportive of our schools, but asking us to commit to 30 years of taxes without any meaningful specifics as to what the money is going to be used for doesn’t sound right.

We should be examining all possible alternatives, including a 10- or 15-year extension, and go with what makes sense.

Marcelo D. Munoz

Unincorporated Shelby County