Bait And Switch?

Trust in government, all government, is at it's all time lowest. But why wouldn't it be. We hear the president lie to us every time he opens his mouth. Our congressmen and senators will say anything to keep their cushy government jobs. I guess we've just come to expect this kind of dishonesty from politicians. But we expect better from our local officials.

For weeks now, there's been the hot debate about the county commission kicking school board officials out of the county office building. The idea is ridiculous on it's merits for all the reasons we've already discussed not the least is the cost to relocate the school board. But that's another story. This discussion is about saying one thing and doing another.

The minimal cost to relocate the board is estimated to be eight hundred thousand to a million dollars. That's not chump change. The next discussion is where that money would come from. That's a real easy answer. The tax payers, no matter which fund is raided to get the money.

Last Monday night, commission voted to take the money from what's known as the Adequate Schools Facility Tax (ASFT). This tax was passed back in 2006 by many of the commissioners who are still there today. At the time the ASFT was passed, it was very controversial. It is a $1 per square foot tax on all new residential construction. The revenues from this tax were designated exclusively to help offset the cost to the schools caused by new development, overcrowding and such.

There were many meetings to discuss the implementation of the ASFT prior to it's passage. Most home builders and developers were opposed to the tax. One of the biggest concerns raised by those who opposed was if passed how could the public be assured that the money would be used for education and it wouldn't just end up being used for anything commissioner's decided to use it for. Citizens were assured the money would only be used for education, it's right there in the resolution.

State law established the ASFT, local commissions had to adopt the state law to pass the ASFT locally. Specifically written in the state law are the terms of how the money from the tax must be used.

67-4-2911.  Remittance of taxes collected.

 The taxes collected pursuant to this part shall be remitted by the collector to the county or metropolitan government trustee, who shall place the tax proceeds in the fund or funds designated by the governing body, but the tax proceeds shall be used exclusively for the purpose of funding capital expenditures for education, including the retirement of bonded indebtedness, the need for which is reasonably related to population growth.

Six of the very same commissioners that voted to implement the ASFT and guaranteed by resolution that all the funds from this tax would "used exclusively for funding growth-related capital expenditures for education, including the retirement of bonded indebtedness" have now voted in complete violation of their adopted resolution. There's absolutely no other way to call it.

I know commission got an opinion from the County Technical Assistance Service that said it was OK to use the ASFT money in violation of the adopted resolution but that still doesn't make it right. They know full well what they voted for back in 2006 and they know this is not an appropriate use of that money.

The driving force behind kicking the school board administrators out of the county office is supposedly to make more room for county general offices. How exactly is spending money, legally earmarked for education, the little children, to expand county general offices be in any way construed to be "funding capital expenditures for education...the need for which is reasonably related to population growth."? It can't.

I'll go back where I started, this is the kind of stuff that destroys faith and confidence in our government officials. It's the old bait and switch. Tell us one thing then do something else.

This is wrong on many levels.