by Joe Kirkpatrick
I could write several pages this month about the City of Cleveland, but I am going to try and condense it and be as brief as possible. First off, I salute Cleveland City Commissioner Charlie McKenzie for being the only commissioner to have the guts to vote against the largest city tax increase I have ever seen in my years of living in Cleveland. Even after a sales tax increase in 2009 or 2010 which was supposed to take care of our city budget for years to come, three years later that was not nearly enough. Spend, spend, spend until you can spend no more!
The Bradley County commissioners, on the other hand, have tightened their budgets, made painful cuts, but have not voted for a county property tax increase in twelve years. Just last month, the county commission turned down the latest attempt to raise taxes, an effort spearheaded by County Commissioner Jeff Morelock. Coincidently, Morelock is also a city resident. Could he and Ringstaff have been in cahoots on this deal? The majority of the county commissioners have just not bought into the "just ask and ye shall receive" mentality of the city commissioners.
What was the basis of the city tax increase? The first reason is they have borrowed and spent more than they can ever repay. However, the secondary, and more pressing reason, is School Superintendent Martin Ringstaff has convinced the city school board to start building a new $15 million elementary school before the funding was in place. He was counting on the city commission raising property taxes to fund part of it, which they did, but the other part was to come from the Bradley County Commission. A really screwed up law dating back to 1967 requires Bradley County to give the city $1 out of every $3 they raise to build a county school. When Jeff Morelock's attempt to raise county property taxes to spend millions renovating Lake Forest Middle School failed, the city, even after voting in on one of the highest property tax increases in history, can now not afford to keep building the new $15 million elementary school they have already started! Oh my, what can they do now? They have already raised the sales tax about as high as it can legally go. They have already passed one of the biggest property tax increases in history, and an attempted wheel tax failed miserably, as well.
Why do we need another elementary school? They say it is because the number of students keeps growing. Does that not mean the population is growing? Should that not mean tax revenues increase even without a tax increase? Could it be the $8 million used for a beautiful science wing at Cleveland High School could have been used toward a new elementary school instead?
Why is the new elementary school going to cost $15 million? Because it will no doubt be beautiful! Why? Because children just do not do well unless they are educated in a state of the art environment. Bull!
Below are some pictures of very nice buildings in Cleveland that are not schools. They are pictures of buildings here in Cleveland that are used by many of the children that attend Cleveland City and Bradley County Schools, as well as their families. What is the difference between the buildings pictured and the $15 million building proposed by Director Ringstaff? They don't cost as much!
If you cannot afford to pay for what you desire, build what you can afford, or do not build at all!