Our county school administrator was hired to improve our students' academic performance, but improvement has been scant during his tenure. County officials are now asking taxpayers for a bailout despite this lack of success by requesting a huge (over 10 percent) property tax increase. Once taxes are raised, they are not lowered even if new government revenue doesn't produce the promised results.
Given Dr. Johnson's lack of success to date, it would be a terrible mistake to approve the massive tax increase for schools in one step. To give the superintendent all the money he has requested at once is to guarantee that schools will not improve since he will not have incentive to show progress proportional to such an enormous increase. Consequently, the superintendent needs to show he can do better with more money by getting it a little bit at a time. He needs to keep coming back over and over again with small targeted goals -- asking for modest increases after he has demonstrated success with what he received each time before. Like Smith Barney, Dr. Johnson needs to "earn it."
It would also be a mistake to raise more money for schools solely through property taxes rather than by spreading it around to all Hamilton County residents by hiking the sales tax. If it's so important to raise another $34,000,000 for schools, let's make sure everyone -- not just property owners -- feel the pain. I have not seen anyone in county government or on the school board explain why hiking the sales tax would not work and why taking more money only from property owners is preferable.
Having read opinions on the subject here and elsewhere and having talked to other Hamilton County residents, I am sure the majority of county property owners is opposed to any tax increase -- especially one as massive and swift as this one. It would be yet another mistake not to hold our county commissioners and school board members accountable at election time if they proceed with the property tax increase as proposed.