Guest Column: District 205 campaign to con taxpayers begins
By Barb Dent
For the second time this year, the voters will be asked to increase the taxes of the beleaguered District 205 taxpayer. Its the fourth time in less than two years we will have been asked to RAISE our taxes by the school board. While the taxpayers have paid enormous tax bills, we have been rewarded by the district with the dubious distinction of having 23 schools on the states Needs Improvement list. The district has Raised our Taxes and Lowered Achievement.
Dr. Alan Brown, current District 205 superintendent, stated that the district would lose $12 million if the referendum doesnt pass. HES WRONG! In April 2001, the voters approved the $3.70 Education Fund levy for the years 2001, 2002 and 2003. The district will receive not only the $12 million in 2003, but will also receive an additional $3 million in new taxes from new construction. AND HIGHER TAXES from current taxpayers. The district isnt being forthright with the voters, because they want you to approve another tax increase.
At the boards Aug. 27th meeting, it was stated that the rhetoric would begin from some groups that the board is raising our taxes. The board is asking you to RAISE YOUR TAXES AGAIN!!! Its simple math. According to the district, it has budgeted to receive $73.6 million from property taxes this year for the Education Fund. The district will receive approximately $76.5 million for next year whether the referendum fails or passes. Thats already a tax increase to current taxpayers. If the referendum fails, the district will still receive $76.5 million next year. If the referendum passes, the districts Education Fund will be increased to $89 million in the next five years.
When the board majority voted in their current budget, they promised that it didnt include a tax increase. If they levy the $3.70 for the Education Fund, they have broken their promise. They should keep their promise and lower the rate for the current homeowners. They seem to forget that the reason house prices are rising is because our taxes were lowered by the previous board and that the People Who Care lawsuit is over. If they continue to raise our taxes, our home values will drop AGAIN!
Whats worse is that this board majority of Michael Bliss, Robert Evans, Nancy Kalchbrenner and Jay Nellis voted to place this referendum on the ballot without any updated financial information. Mr. Nellis had requested that the administration provide the board with a look at the six-year plan. They have no financial proof that the district has held its part of the bargain to balance their budget and reduce the deficit this past school year and the current school year. The voters are being asked AGAIN to increase taxes, without any evidence that the district is being fiscally responsible.
This board promised to focus on education, but their focus has been on asking for MORE MONEY. Its apparent that MORE MONEY hasnt raised achievement. Send the board a message in November. Vote NO! Tell them to Raise Achievement, Not Taxes. Call 749-1900 to find out about how you can be involved or visit our websitehttp://www.r-e-a-ch.org
Barb Dent is the president of Rockford Educating All Children (R.E.A.CH.).