Well, give ‘em hell, Chris Walker. They’ve got it coming to them.
On September 19th he laid out a well-reasoned explanation of why he will be voting no and encouraging voters to also vote no on the North Lyon County bond issue that will be decided by the voters on October 7th.
The question the voters will decide is whether or not North Lyon County will take on $39 million in debt to build a huge facility, complete with two gymnasiums (one of which would seat 1,200 people), a greenhouse, two cafeterias, carpentry and metal labs.
If you’re thinking that the proposed facility is to be built for a Big 12 powerhouse, you’d be dead wrong. The total population of North Lyon County is about 4,000. The student population of U.S.D. 251 is under 500.The district’s per capita income is about $17,000 per year.
When the good people of the county asked Superintendent Aron Dody why they should give the district the millions, he said that the current facilities were getting old, that a central facility would produce economies of scale, that there would be additional educational opportunities for students, energy cost savings, and the old reliable “it’s for the kids.”
Mr. Dody seems to be a very smooth operator. He made the 26 mils per taxpayer the project would cost appear to be nothing but chump change. This is how he put it: “So on a $100,000 county appraised home that is going to cost $299 a year,” Dody said. “Which translates down to about .81 a day. That is at most.”
That’s the kind of trite language we hear when we’re being sold encyclopedias or vacuum cleaners by door-to-door salesmen.
Of course, by the time the bond is paid off in twenty-five years the cost per taxpayer will be about $7,500. That’s some kind of chump change, ‘eh?
It didn’t appear, from my reading, that the 26 mils included the cost of purchasing 120 acres of land. But, then, what’s a couple of hundred thousand bucks among friends? Just a bit more chump change, right?
The truth is, this project doesn’t look like chump change to me and I doubt that it looks that way to the people of North Lyon County.
Many of us have spent enough time in the corporate world to see this sort of thing happen many, many times. We’ve all seen that project that would bring nothing to the bottom line being touted by some ambitious executive climbing the corporate ladder. In the company I worked for we called them “goat rodeos.”
You’d think that the North Lyon County commissioners would have taken a cue from the voters of Chase County, which has about the same number of students and per capita incomes that are $4,000 higher than North Lyon County’s. A few months ago they voted down a $27 million dollar proposal. An overwhelming 82% of Chase Countians voted no, in essence telling their leaders they must have been smoking a bit too much Golden Goat when they approved the measure.
It’s hard to say what the North Lyon County commissioners were smoking, but it must have been pretty potent stuff.
The taxpayers have been down this road too many times. They’re getting tired of having millions of their hard earned dollars thrown down rat holes. They’re tired of spending a half a billion to train four or five Syrian counter-insurgents. They’re tired of government officials cooking the books on intelligence estimates, cost estimates, and success estimates. They’re tired of political hucksters telling them that their latest project de jour will cost them less than the cup of coffee a day, when they know damned good and well that they’re being taken to the cleaners. They’re tired of TIF’s and big box developers running roughshod over them. They’re tired of having politicians tell them they’re valued constituents when they’re being treated as nothing more than revenue sources. They’re tired of the alarming lack of respect their leaders show for them.
I imagine if Chris Walker and I were to have a chat we could find things about which we disagree. But, in this case he got it exactly right when he wrote “This amount of tax increase is insane.” He was right when he said that the school planning committee should “go to back to the drawing board and deliver something to voters that is affordable.” He was right when he wrote that a little tax increase here and another there eventually becomes a mountain. The increases seem to start as small drops of water, but, in time people discover they’re actually being drowned. It’s a form of Chinese water torture being inflicted on them by the people they elected to represent them.