School Levy Failure a Clear Signal: No More Taxes
Lee’s Summit, February 12, 2011 – The voters of Lee’s Summit evaluated the proposed tax levy (from $6.05 per $100 in assessed valuation, up to $6.94 a 14.7% increase) and of the over 15,000 who voted on the special election, 63% voted a resounding NO.
This is a continuation of the “No More Taxes” and Fiscal Responsibility wave that swept the conservatives into power. We will see if they understand their mandate and are willing to do the tough things that need to be done. As for Lee’s Summit, for the first time in the 21st Century the voters said no to the schools.
It is understandable to see disappointed comments from people like David McGehee, School District Superintendent, and Terri Harmon, co-chair of the Building our Future Committee. Two men who believed in what they were doing, putting their best effort forward, and still the voters said, no.
It is not a comment on their good intentions nor is it a comment on their evaluation of the pro’s and con’s of what needed to be done. They are well meaning men who lead the community in a direction they believe in strongly. It is, however, a strong referendum that City Hall should pay attention to as well on the taxation limit of the citizens of Lee’s Summit.
In an impromptu poll walking out of Precinct 13, I was talking to a small group of voters. I did not care how they voted, but had this column in mind so I asked them what do you want of Lee’s Summit Government, including the School District management. This was certainly not a scientific poll, there were six of us walking out.
Lee’s Summit voters want lower taxes, they want more job opportunities, they want less city government intervention in things that don’t require it, and oh yes one last thing; better synchronized lights on Chipman (I’ll leave this one in cause I made a promise to include it.)
In reading February 10th’s story on the Lee’s Summit Journal by Emily Jarrett and Miranda Wycoff, I was caught short by two comments that are quoted on the paper. The first:
“The people made their choice and their decision and now we’re going to have to start making our cuts,” said David McGehee, R-7 superintendent. “We’ll start working with the individual schools to figure out who’s going to go.”
The second one was;
“I hope those who voted no won’t regret it in three to four years when the impact of their decision starts to hurt their business,” Harmon said. “I’m disappointed so many people put personal gain ahead of our children.”
If they are not misquoted, and if they are not taken out of context, these two statements show that they don’t really understand the true challenge they face. Lee’s Summit did not say “fire people”, nor did we say “harm the children’s future”.
In fact the voters clearly challenged the leadership of this community to make the most of our tax dollars. There is a limit to what we have to spend, and we refuse to give a blank check with endless funds to any part of the city.
Every company that is surviving this never ending (always improving) recession has had to make hard choices. Our small company has faced record years, and yet we are looking very hard at how to improve, how to do more with less, how to satisfy our customer’s demands without increasing our operating costs. We’ve learned to squeeze the nickel till the buffalo excrements.
We are asking our District and School Administrators to find the truly important things that need to be done, and get those done – educate fully our children. The important things like classroom size, teaching tools, and electives get what is left. The nice things don’t get the money.
As a top level manager in the operation side of our company I’m constantly challenged to find the truly important things and make sure they are fully funded, and to put aside the nice things till a time when the economy is in better shape. It was the same in the early 80’s and the mid 90’s and it appears that now it is again the same.
The timing of the special election and the levy was wrong. People want government to be more frugal, to make the hard choices, and to be creative – not in how they tax us, but in how they get things accomplished with less. Necessity is the mother of invention.
We respectfully challenge our District and School administrators to be creative, to find solutions to the tough problems and to accomplish their mission with the money they have.
The Lee’s Summit Conservative