To the editor:
I attended all four of the “Listening Tour” meetings. While they were informative, I really think the school board missed the real reason they lost the referendum. Or perhaps they were afraid to hear it…
When they were repeatedly asked about the debt service level they never actually replied to the questions. At the beginning of every meeting Steve Snider stated that they were extremely proud that they have held that level (.40/$100 on assessed value) for years. Several people asked if that was going to be the level no matter what. Would they make up for the lost referendum by creating bonds to keep the level as high as it now stands. They received no answer.
If the board was truly listening, they would have realized that the answer to the problem was not all the fancy explanations on money, HR, or the required social programs. It simply boiled down to taxes. The taxpayers believe that if the school did not need any other maintenance (other than those mentioned in the referendum) and could afford the massive expenditure of a field house and five artificial turf fields, (which the taxpayers declined to support) then it was time to decrease the debt level.
This referendum was lost mainly due to tax issues. With the increase the taxpayers received for the school on the May property tax bill, the new taxes they received for the community corrections they did not ask for or want, the substantial increases they saw on the new property assessments, and the expected increase in tax for the new jail, the taxpayers have no desire to support the current .40/$100 if it is not truly needed for maintenance and academics. (Sadly, Mr. Teders, was heard to state several times that he believes the field house and five turf fields to be needs not wants and they will remain on the needs list.)
So, listen up school board, the DeKalb Central School District taxpayers made a statement when they voted down the referendum. They want a lower debt service rate. They want lower taxes. If there is so much room for extra expenditures at the current debt service level, then it should be adjusted and maintained at a new lower rate. Now that would be something for the school board to brag about.