Saturday, May 19, 2012

Hermosa Beach Rejects Parcel Tax

If a municipal government insists on raising taxes, then at least two-thirds of the community must support the increase, at least ensuring that a meaningful majority of voters will be contributing something. A simple majority of voters simply does not justify levying taxes on small businesses and residents of modest or wealthy incomes.

The Hermosa Beach City School District is commanding less respect as it continues pleading with residents to pay more money into a school system which has cut positions and increased class sizes. Rich or poor, students are suffering under the arbitrary budget cuts of a state government which refuses to budget responsibly, including making the necessary cuts that will certainly hurt everyone.

If parents are expected to contribute anything to the fiscal future of a school, then the parents at least deserve the option of voting for salary cuts, pension reductions, and benefits capping for the employees. Why not press for a limitation of the collective bargaining units in the school district, as implemented in Wisconsin by Governor Scott Walker and his colleagues.

The balance of furnishing the coffers with much needed revenue must be offset with reforms that will ensure that the money is used in the classroom, not in teacher salaries or administrative overhead.

On another note, I condemn the insinuations proffered by certain individuals that because residents refuse to support a parcel tax increase, that they therefore do not care about their local schools. Whether a property owner is raising children or supports raising revenue for the local school district, taxpayers deserve more information, oversight, and involvement in how the school board disperses its funds. Waste, poor investment, and fraud go undetected in too many districts, especially when leading officials refuse to provide accurate and available accounting for the community to evaluate.

I am sure that most voters care about their local schools, and they demonstrate their concern by demanding that they money which they are asked to contribute by spend wisely. When school districts limit their liabilities to the state and their employees, when school districts engage in a more economically friendly model, when school districts respond to market forces for enrollment and funding, then taxpayers will warm to the idea of a tax increase.

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