School Board is not thinking clearly with budget issue

Last Thursday evening, July 27th, the Simpson County School Board held a public hearing regarding a proposed increase in ad valorem taxes, that according to the public advertisement, “may result” in an increase in the ad valorem tax millage rate. At the meeting, the School District Accountant, Mr. Duane Fewell, reviewed the proposed budget, and stated that it is expected that the proposed budget will NOT result in an increase in the millage rate. In other words, no tax increase is supposedly expected.

I, along with some other citizens attending this meeting, questioned Mr. Fewell about the potential for a tax increase. Mr. Fewell indicated that if before the August 15th Board of Supervisors meeting, expected revenue projections change, and a tax increase turns out to be needed, the School Board would have an opportunity to revise the budget to prevent a tax increase.

I directly asked the School Board if they would make cuts rather than vote to submit the current proposed budget, and thus cause an increase in the school tax. The only answer I received was from one board member, which in effect was “there is nothing in the budget to cut.”

Fellow citizens! This is absolute nonsense. There is always somewhere in the budget to make a cut, whether the entity in question is a family, a church, a business, or a government entity. The only issue in any budget cut is, what do we cut, and what kind of consequences will result from said cut?

Now, if my family’s monthly budget somehow grows to the point to where my expenditures outpace my income, I have a few choices. I can find a way to increase income, go in debt, or cut expenses. If I choose to increase income, I will need to expend more effort than I had previously done. Unless I am earning such a low salary that it takes every dollar I make to pay for necessities, I can find a way to cut expenses.

The School District cannot increase income on its own. It is a government entity: thus, the only way it can actively increase income is to extract more money from you and me, the taxpayers of the county. The School Board is apparently unwilling to cut expenses. I questioned the need for a new football field house in Magee, and asked, out of the almost $2,000,000.00 Capital Improvements line item in next year’s budget, how much of this amount represents the proposed new football field house? The answer was, “all of it.” The proposed budget for 2019 – 2020 is more than $1,000,000 more than last year’s budget, so if this field house were not built, the next year’s budget would be less than this year’s.

I ask you, my fellow citizens: how many of you, if a popular vote were taken, would vote to increase your own taxes to build the Magee football team a $2,000,000.00 field house? So many questions come to mind here. We could ask such questions as: in what building is the team currently lifting weights? Do they have somewhere to shower and dress? If they need a new building, does it take $2,000,000 for them to have a location to bulk up, shower, dress, and for the coaching staff to have somewhere to “shoot the breeze”? However, my questions are, why should we the taxpayers be obligated to build them a field house at all? Is football an integral part of a decent education? Is it in the interest of the taxpayers to fund free sports training for the youth of the county? What is next, a new football stadium in both towns?

If I may present my short answer to some of the above questions: in a nutshell, this new building is a boondoggle, a travesty, and a thorough pocket-picking of the taxpayers. More of our hard-earned money is about to be confiscated for someone’s pet project. The School Board managed to get Mendenhall a fancy new field house in 2016. We all know of the long-standing Magee/Mendenhall rivalry. If Mendenhall gets something new at taxpayer expense, apparently it isn’t fair if Magee doesn’t get the same shiny new toy. This is absolute lunacy. The School District has “stuck it to” us in 2016, and they are preparing to do it again. This is akin to “throwing good money after bad.”

Wake up my friends! Pay attention to your wallets! Your elected officials are looking to lighten them. Attend some meetings. Call your elected “servants.” Demand change. If you do not, be assured that they will continue to rob you.

Anyone who wishes to discuss this situation can email me at trbfloyd@hotmail.com.

Ray Floyd

Angry Taxpayer