Bill Wayne's Political Pages - The Gadfly
Gadfly 111
Submitted to the Warrensburg Gazette for November 1, 2001

The Gadfly is a series of letters offering commentary on local issues and published in the Warrensburg Gazette.

Two school-related articles appeared in your October 25 paper. The front page article about the Warrensburg R-VI school board meeting included a member’s report on a regional meeting of the Missouri School Boards Association. Page 3 had a report on the Missouri Association of School Administrators convention. Taken together, it appears that those in charge of government schools believe they should have an unlimited right to tax.

It appears our school board endorsed an effort to eliminate the 4/7 supermajority requirement for passing bond issues. As I’ve written before, the reason for the supermajority is to protect future taxpayers from spending decades paying for ill-conceived fads of today. The payments and taxes go on and on, even if the need disappears. The Warrensburg district has done a reasonable job of planning & selling their bond issue requests under current rules; the only failure in recent memory was one to replace a 20-year-life roof on a 20-year-old building.

The school administrators have even more grandiose ideas about getting into the public’s pockets. Besides eliminating the supermajority, they want to do away with the Hancock Amendment for school taxes and ‘upgrade and equalize’ property tax assessments statewide. The Hancock Amendment protects people, particularly retirees, whose property has increased in market value without any upgrading on their part; eliminating this protection for the largest part of your real estate tax bill would result in significant tax increases every few years, as we read about in Kansas. I’m not sure what they mean by their position on assessments, but I suspect what they want to do is apply big-city valuation to small-town property.

One justification for need for money is that the average salary for Missouri teachers supposedly ranks 33rd nationally. This sort of comparative statistic is eyewash – it tells nothing. A meaningful statistic would be one that compares teacher salaries in a specific area with the cost of living in that area, as purchasing power is more relevant than average dollars figures.

Actually, I find I can support one recommendation, limits on tax abatement programs which distort the marketplace and may be granted by one governmental entity to the disadvantage of another.

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