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Times of Wayne County

I could be wrong but…

Unless you are hiding under a rock, the recent hub bub over the Board of Supervisors’ moves to take back the sales tax share from area school districts is pretty well known.

Next week at the Finance Committee at the County, a Resolution will be presented to take back the $5.4 million the County has shared with the school districts for decades.

The move to do so has failed in the past, but has a tremendous push and better than average chance of succeeding this time. In the past, supervisors have folded under pressure from the school superintendents and their lobbying attempts. Letters, e-mails, phone calls from whipped-up parents, including threats of getting the supervisors ousted at future elections have succeeded.

What has changed this time? Wayne County is the LAST of the rural counties to address taking back any sharing of sales tax revenues with school districts. The County is under extreme budget pressures like never before. Shrinking property taxes coupled with crumbling infrastructure, along with abandoned properties, has taken a toll. The Board finally realizes that a long term solution is needed. The Board must invest in economic development.

What many people do not realize is that it is far from mandatory that the County share the sales tax dollars.Many, many counties NEVER shared the sales tax pie with school districts.

So, how can every other rural school district in the state survive without the sales tax monies? Why haven’t the local districts been preparing for the inevitable?

One big mistake the school districts made in the latest attempt to thwart the loss of sales tax dollars was to use the same old tactics as in year’s past. Full page ads with a sad child, accompanied by threats of sports and extracurricular losses simply does not cut it. The threats of LEGAL action by one recent participant at last Wednesday’s forum was just plain stupid. The use of the television media at the “rally” before the meeting fell on deaf ears, as did the pleas by parents who think the world will end with the loss of sales tax dollars.

What the school superintendents should have done is work with the Board years ago to ween the districts from the sales tax dollars over a period of time, as was suggested the last time the issue arose.

Now, the districts are faced with real challenges to make do with reality, what other districts throughout the state have had to do to make ends meet.

Will sacrifices have to be made? Will some sports have to cut back, or rely on participant/club contributions? Will some parents have to shell out for the extras they believe their kids are ‘entitled’ to?

Yes.

This Board of Supervisors has stood up to the gauntlet. Most have the courage to think about what is best for the county, instead of their reelection chances.

If I were a school superintendent, I would quit moaning and sharpen the budget pencils like never before. Quit threatening huge school tax increases you know will never fly. Thank the county for decades of sales tax dollars that somehow other districts throughout the state never had to spend.

I could be wrong, but the time has come…

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