On February 4 we voted on the Leeway Tax, the board of education proposed. The passed measure raises our taxes to about $61 for every $100,000 of market value. Our homes were taxed at market value when property values were high. Right now you could not get the market value you are taxed for out of your home if yous should sell it.
Few people voted because they were not properly informed of the leeway or the change in voting places.
The board claimed we needed the leeway for teachers salaries. They said everything was for the teachers. Now we read that the teachers only received a five percent raise in salaries. It should have all gone to the teachers.
When the subject of the leeway came up and some citizens, especially those on fixed incomes asked about that situation the school superintendent had the nerve to tell them to get relief assistance.
The superintendent said, "There are programs for tax relief for seniors, should such an increase be a burden. Those seniors on fixed incomes can apply for relief."
Seniors do have pride and don't feel they should ask for relief.
It is not only the seniors who will be hurting as the new tax comes into effect. Unemployment in Carbon County is almost eight percent. There are unemployed people on fixed incomes that have children to raise.
Carbon County even made the news in the parade section of the Salt Lake Tribune on April 27,2 003. Under the article entitled "Won't You Help Feed Them" the article said "In Price, a mining town in Eastern Utah, one food pantry is butchering deer and elk that have been confiscated from illegal hunting, so they can distribute the meat to desperate families."
I was pleased the people of Helper voted against the leeway. The board spent money to remodel the Westridge Middle School into a new administration building and then they put in air conditioning. Yet Sally Mauro School had severe damage to the roof due to the hailstorm that hit Helper last August and the roof remained unrepaired all during the school year. Why wasn't this reported before spending money on the westridge Middle School building? I thought that the children came first.
When I sent in my absentee ballot for the leeway tax, I received a call from Bill Jewkes questioning my eligibility to vote. We pay more property tax in Carbon County than anyone in the board office or on the board of education.
With the leeway tax, we will pay almost $400 more in taxes on our property. When the hailstorm hit Helper, we had over $6,000 in damage. When we got our insurance notice for this year, our insurance premiums doubled.
Taxes are increasing on many services. The sewer fee is going up $2. This is for a sewer Helper residents don't use. It is now $18.50 per month.
If the county, state or federal governments raise taxes any more, because of the condition of the economy, we will be taxed beyond our means.
The state, national, and local economy is going from bad to worse. Don't count on the money from the Bush administration tax cut because most people in Carbon County are not making enough to get a rebate even if they have children.
The stock market, according to the newspaper, is at its lowest since 1931. The public should know how their tax dollars are being spent. Teachers have always had to pay their own expenses to attend U.E.A. for two days in Salt Lake City (three days are not paid school days.) Yet board members are traveling all over the country at the taxpayers expense. It would be interesting to know how much each board member has spent on trips.
The answer may well be "We don't keep minutes of every meeting." This is what was said to one group about another item when details were requested about it.
I see where our board members went to San Fransciso to a National School Board Convention. Since when is Walter Cronkite an expert on education? He is a newscaster. I cannot see how going to listen to Walter Cronkite benefits our schools. It's just more money spent on nonsense.
Board members should serve without pay. If they attended meetings or conventions, they should pay their own way. They should take a lesson from State Representative Brad King for giving the salary raise he received from the state to the schools of Carbon County.
After all teachers pay for their own education classes to further their experience.