Letter to the Editor

Northeast Vernon County school tax levy and national health care

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Dear Editor,

With the passage of national health care still ringing in our ears I found myself reflecting on this historic and unprecedented turn of events. It is understood, and has actually been stated on numerous occasions, that no one has any idea of what the health care bill will actually cost; who will benefit from the many programs and bureaucratic departments that will be created; where the money will actually come from; what will be funded or eliminated after the dust finally settles.

We do know some things ... it has been said, for example, here in Missouri, that we have one year to get our budget in place to accommodate the financial tsunami that will take place. We are in trouble NOW and very soon Missouri will be fully responsible for taking care of the health care of tens of thousands of persons which would swell into the halls of the hospitals heretofore not covered by any health care insurance. (As an aside: today if a person demonstrates a need they do and WILL receive health care.

Unfortunately, it is the person who cannot pay the high price of health insurance that truly suffers in today's scenario.) Please, do not misunderstand: if anyone does NOT care about the suffering of any man, woman or child in need of proper health care then there is something very wrong with that person. Every single one of us can agree that health care in this country has a problem and it needs to be fixed.

The bottom line question remains however: who is going to pay for this care? Missouri's "rainy day" fund has already been tapped into ... this fund is for emergency use only when our budget experiences shortfalls. By law it is to be replenished by May, still, no one knows where this money will come from. Now add health care and the myriad of questions and concerns of expense to our dwindling budget and let us then open this new Pandora's Box with its set of challenges and problems.

The passage of the health care bill causes one to see stark similarities with the proposed Northeast Vernon County tax levy for building of a new school for Schell City and Walker residents. We understand that there are problems facing the good people, dedicated teachers, and dear children that attend the school (s) in Schell City and Walker. I personally know some of the teachers and there are no finer individuals, nor more committed persons to the education of our children. However, in the spirit of the passing of our new national health care bill ... how is the school really going to be paid for? How much more blood can be squeezed from the turnip that is called the Vernon County land owner?

There are many promises being made by the school action committee. We have been told that construction costs have never been lower (Huh? Look at the graph on their advertisement.) And now is the time to build? The chart inserted in their ad shows an INCREASE in construction costs. I'm confused. I wish for an environment for excellence in education. However, when one considers that NEVC R-I has a district standing of 471 out 553 districts (the bottom of the scale), a fact that does not solicit great confidence. When one considers the yearly cost of educating the 196 students in this district of $10,415 (2009 statistics) versus even Nevada's cost of $8,215, one is not filled with very much confidence again.

The committee for building the school has informed us that the tax levy will never be rescinded since no one knows the costs of maintaining the school in the future. Shouldn't these be separate issues? Build your school with a budget, then have an operating budget ... I am very confused. Another "promise" is that there will be application of stimulus money (or grant money). Since when does one vote into place a property tax increase based on a promise that we will be looking for the POSSIBILITY of funny money that even the mainstream media is now telling us is no longer available?

Whose back will carry this debt? Schell City has an estimated per capita income of $14,417 and we pay $9,249 per student for their education. Good grief! Something is wrong when the good citizens of Walker have a very interesting statistic of sending 37.7 percent of their children to PRIVATE SCHOOLS, as compared to the Missouri state average of 13.7 percent. Something is wrong here. We can all agree that the sad fact of the low income level of the citizens of Walker speaks volumes! Do not forget though that the private school ever increasing COSTS money, all the while the home owner continues to pay their property tax!

The idea of a "better school" which will draw more students is a pipe dream. The idea of owning your home is no longer the American dream. Sure, we can pay the bank mortgage off, but try NOT paying your property tax bill and see how long you can remain in your AMERICAN DREAM. How many properties are listed in the paper and then sold on the courthouse steps because our friends can no longer pay their mortgages, monthly bills and ultimately their property taxes? How many friends and families have struggled this winter with loss of employment, higher cost of living and now we are asked to INCREASE our tax burdens for an idea ... for a promise of something that cannot be promised ....

Vernon County, the burden is and will be on our shoulders. My heart cries out for our friends and family ... for the children. But, unfortunately, there is a time when a line has to be drawn in the sand and sound reason must return to us ... Uncertain times dictate a policy of WAIT AND SEE. We are still operating, but why push, push during tumultuous days? It is vital that we all vote NO on Prop S ... S stands for sanity, sound thinking, SENSE.

Cindy Cutler

Schell City