Franklin residents/taxpayers, have you filled out your survey about plans for another Franklin school referendum? The questionnaires are due by June 13.
Being a civic-minded individual, I have some views on the latest effort campaign to persuade taxpayers to vote to increase their own taxes.
1) There will definitely be a referendum. No doubt about it. All arrows point that way. The only question is, how much will the handout ask for.
2) The Franklin School Board punts to residents. Rather than make any tough decisions they were elected to do, members will pose for holy pictures and use survey responses as rationale to put tax-increase question(s) on the ballot. Their spin will be that they listened and responded to the public.
3) There’s a reason three options are on the survey. That improves the odds of approval. Depending on survey results there could be more than one question put to voters. In 2012 three questions were on the ballot. Two were approved. The middle school question failed. The object is not to do what’s best, what’s feasible, what’s prudent, what’s necessary. The object is to win.
4) Sob stories. You’re going to hear them. And some of the hand-wringing may be legitimate with truly needed improvements. Franklin never stops at the “needs.”
5) We did it for the high school. The guilt trip factor. Four years ago Franklin voted to approve two referendum questions to make major changes to the high school. Many voters will be of a mindset that we can’t possibly turn our backs on the middle schoolers.
6) Convenient? Intentional? Couldn’t help but notice the price tag for building a brand new middle school is actually cheaper than one of the options calling for renovation. How many residents will fall for that?
7) Only this much. The same old argument will be trotted out that improvements will only hike your taxes by just a little bit. But that’s on top of the already exorbitant taxes we pay in Franklin.
A quote often attributed to the late US Senator Everett Dirksen is, “A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon it adds up to real money.” Dirksen said in an interview, “Oh, I never said that. A newspaper fella misquoted me once, and I thought it sounded so good that I never bothered to deny it.” He was right. It sounds good because it’s true.
8) You’d better vote yes. Otherwise you will be tarred and feathered as hating kids and education.
9) I’d better not hear or read this one. Businesses choose to open or locate in communities with great schools. Right. Where are they?
10) WI has gone referendum-crazy. Back on April 5, a total of 56 communities held 71 referendums. School districts asked voters to approve nearly $700 million in borrowing for new construction and building updates, and more than $150 million in increases in school district budgets. Those requested amounts were the largest put before voters at the annual spring election going back at least a decade.
What happened? Voters approved 55 of the 71 referendums on the ballot, including $492 million in borrowing for building upgrades and construction projects, $128 million to expand school district budgets for a set amount of time, and $10 million to expand school budgets on a recurring basis.
The MacIver Institute noted in April:
If each of the school districts had voters approve their referendum requests, Wisconsinites would approve a huge $853,216,000 in new spending. That’s nearly one-fifth what Gov. Walker’s Act 10 saved Wisconsin taxpayers over 5 years.
If Wisconsinites wonder why Gov. Walker’s statewide tax reforms haven’t had more impact, taxpayers might want to check in with their local governments to see if officials are utilizing Gov. Walker’s money-saving tools. They might also ask why their local government needs to borrow money for important projects when some of them could be paid for by putting aside the savings from Act 10 and other reforms.
So, Franklin is headed for a self-inflicted property tax increase. The only mystery is, how much?