Friday, May 23, 2008

Glaucoma Is "Vision" Too

I quote the late Senator Everett Dirkson: "A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon we're talking about real money." Knock that down to millions and you'll find yourself in the middle of the line of local officials looking for money.

A school levy for $31.1 million dollars was just turned down. Not that the need for it isn't there; but rather the officials did a poor job of putting together and communicating the reasons to the voters. They'll be back.

We have local elections coming up and the issue of the need for a new jail is back in the news. It has been kicked back by the voters twice that I can remember and yet the price tag continues to increase. We're now up to $120 million!

And don't forget the chunk of land for the "education corridor" the city of Coeur d'Alene and tax payer funded North Idaho College wants. Price tag $10 million. Are we looking at real money yet?

I'm not going to say yea or nay on any of these projects. I am going to suggest our governmental "visionaries" aren't looking at the whole picture. How much of a tax burden can the people handle? I don't care if you call it a bond issue or a levy or what, it is by any name a tax. Add to that one of the sources being considered for the education corridor are foregone taxes. You know, those that haven't been collected because there was no need at the time.

When elected officials remind us we have elected them to make "tough" decisions and that is all they need to proceed with any project they deem desirable, we are not always being well served. When they are quick to hire outside consultants to advise them on salary scales for themselves, yet don't bother to have an independent appraisal done on a ten million dollar piece of property; don't explain what happened to the money for the last levy for the same project nor put forth independent estimates for the cost of what they want to do, they are not serving us well. When there are few public forums for candidates who's responsibility it will be to make final these decisions, we are not being well served. Though I must admit when you look at the war chests and the names of supporters listed in their ads you can pretty much determine where they stand.

When people from each side of an issue hold their own forums to control the information, we are not being well served. By either side. They should be working together to iron out differences before the fact, not after it. Instead of a forum by each side how about a debate between them? Free. For the public. I know. That isn't the way things around here work.

When we're told "The generations of the past provided Tubbs Hill, McCuen Field and City Park" and "The economic report that's coming will underscore that there is value beyond property taxes", take a good close look at a couple of things.

What were the economic conditions when Tubbs Hill, McCuen Field and City Park came to be? Consider the fact they are parks, not structures the magnitude of a new jail complex or school buildings. Consider too, we taxpayers are the ones paying for it. We tax payers who have trouble paying our property taxes now, who have trouble keeping nutritious food on our tables, who can barely afford the gas to go shopping, and work whats more their one sided forums!

Hindsight is worthless. True "vision" is not tunnel vision; it requires a wide angle lens. Remember, too, we elect them.


Word Tosser said...

Don't you just love they keep bring back the same thing, we keep saying no to by our votes... like water dripping on our foreheads, they seem to think, if they bring it back to the voters often enough, we will say yes just to get rid of it... what they don't realize is, we will get rid of them instead.

Mike said...

Mari - one clarification is in order. There IS an appraisal of the DeArmond mill land being conducted, it will be completed very soon (I don't recall the date, but it's soon). That was discussed at the Open House on the Ed Corridor land last week.

How much tax burden is too much? Darn good question. People are wiling to pay for some things, and not for others (and these shift depending on the people you are talking to and the economy, etc). I think the elected person's job is to process that as much as possible and do what you think is right. I don't always have the answer, so I do the best with what I know.

I'm already seeing a few times where I've been wrong and some where I think the vote will be vindicated over the long haul. So much of what happens isn't just the actual vote, though, it's the processing of all the information and differing points of view - or in some cases NO feedback - and trying to make sense of it.

Your post is thought-provoking, as usual.