Vote ‘yes’ for our children’s future

Published 6:00 pm Thursday, May 27, 2010

You’ve seen the signs in support of it. If you’ve attended city council meetings, school board meetings and the new superintendent’s recent public forums, you’ve heard the call to pass it through on June 1.

The ad valorem tax renewal formally appearing on the June 1 primary ballots.

This is a renewal of a tax on property that’s been in place since 1957.

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As Allen Stephenson, spokesperson for Friends of Butler County Schools, put it when he talked to citizens in Georgiana: “Nobody wants to pay new taxes. But this isn’t a new tax. We vote on its renewal every ten years.”

A decade ago, that fact wasn’t made clear for many voters prior to the election. The renewal failed to pass.

A special election was then called – an election that ended up costing taxpayers some $50,000 – because, frankly, our school system could not operate without the funds generated by the tax.

Here’s how it breaks down: For every $100,000 in property you own, you contribute spending $10 a month to support your public schools.

That’s roughly the cost of a couple of value meals at a local fast-food restaurant.

It’s a small investment with a big return for our community.

As Stephenson has pointed out, the monies raised through the ad valorem tax don’t go to new construction, but to pay for essentials like utility bills and teachers’ salaries. In collecting the required millage, the State provides $15.1 million in funding to the county’s schools – half the total budget. Without it, our schools cease to function and another special election we can ill afford would be inevitable.

We agree with calls for accountability regarding our school system’s finances, especially in such precarious financial times.

Funding is among the greatest challenges facing our schools. Our children, our community, can afford no less than a renewal on June 1.