Current weather

  • Overcast, mist
  • 70°
    Overcast, mist
  • Comment

Opposing taxes isn't courageous

Posted: June 2, 2013 - 12:03am

A friend the other day called Columbia County School Board member Mike Sleeper “courageous” because he was the only trustee to vote against a 1-mill tax hike.

I disagree. Not because I disagree with Sleeper, but because these days voting against a tax increase is easy. Voting for a tax increase at the local level is just about the hardest thing an elected official can do.

Sleeper’s vote against the tax hike isn’t courageous. It’s safe. He could vote against the 1-mill increase secure in the knowledge that a majority would pass it. The system would get the funds to fill part of its $11.6 million budget deficit, and he could avoid being accused of raising taxes. It’s a twofer.

Now, what would have been courageous? Passing a 2-mill tax increase and using the money to bring back more teacher’s aides in lower grades.

That’s a strong idea that had been circulating behind the scenes from some unexpected sources. The suggestion never went public, much less on the floor for debate. But it certainly was intriguing – especially when we see signs that test scores are starting to slip as funding has dwindled.

Of course, no one wants to raise taxes. It’s odd that there are those who seem to think local elected officials in this conservative county somehow are eager to do so, or that they see it as the “easy way out.” Exactly the opposite is true, which is why the school board beat this thing to death before finally taking that 4-1 vote this past Tuesday.

But there is one facet of the tax-hike vote that shouldn’t go without comment: This is the second time in three years that the school board has voted to raise property taxes (and comes after tens of millions in state budget cuts during the past decade).

Remember what happened after that last tax hike? Local taxpayers were so incensed, so outraged, that they rose up and voted their school board members out of office, right?

Well, no.

• District 1 trustee Wayne Bridges didn’t run for re-election. When his wife became an assistant principal, a new state law kicked in that prevented him from serving on the school board. The tax hike wasn’t an issue in the election of his successor, David Dekle, who voted Tuesday for the tax increase.

• District 4 trustee Roxanne Whitaker easily defeated two opponents – neither of whom made an issue of her 2011 vote for the tax increase.

• Chairwoman Regina Buccafusco didn’t even draw a challenger andcoasted to re-election.

Come to think of it, with zero backlash for the last tax increase – in fact, with those voting for the tax hike easily winning – maybe it is “courageous” for Mike Sleeper to vote against the tax increase. Just not in the sense my friend intended.

After all, you could easily argue that local voters seem to indicate they like the idea of investing more money in their schools and don’t mind paying the equivalent of one family night of dining out to pay for it.

Meanwhile, I’ve enjoyed reading and hearing the comments from people who insist the tax hike wasn’t a last resort, and that there were plenty of easy things the school board could have done to balance the budget without breaking a sweat.

Too bad none of those people brought their sharpened pencils to the handful of hearings the board held to discuss the budget – including the one Tuesday that ended early, with no new information on the table, and no one from the public there to offer any suggestions.

Perhaps those are the same folks who also don’t take the time to visit the voting booth. With that sort of civic engagement, I suppose just showing up should be considered courageous

(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. Email barry.paschal@newstimes, or call 706-868-1222, ext. 106. Follow at

  • Comment

Comments (14)

Little Lamb

Good Analysis

It's a good column, even though there are things with which I disagree. The one idea I suggest should be fleshed out is this one:

Passing a 2-mill tax increase and using the money to bring back more teacher’s aides in lower grades. . . . [would be] intriguing – especially when we see signs that test scores are starting to slip as funding has dwindled.

I think there is little if any correlation in funding vs. test scores. I saw a table several years ago showing per-student-funding and test score rankings. I remember Washington, D.C. schools had the highest per-pupil expenditures and they had some pitiful scores. On the other hand, South Dakota non-tribal schools had among the lowest expenditures per pupil and some very respectable scores.


Furlough Days

There was no need for raising taxes, two furlough days would have been suffice. Those days could have been the Monday and Tuesday of Thanksgiving Week. At least every school in the county is not having to cut back 7 per cent in their budget like Richmond County schools have to do. In addition, they have to absorb 9 furlough days this new school year.

Barry Paschal

A little education

Columbia County schools each had to cut 50 percent out of their instructional budgets.

One full furlough day saves $750,000. Two days would produce $1.5 million. The 1 mill tax will produce $4 million. That would require five furlough days, which still wouldn't be enough to fill the budget gap.

What everyone is missing in this comparison is that unlike Columbia County, Richmond long ago hit its tax cap. They have no choice now but to cut. Columbia County has always been more frugal, and even now is still nearly 2 mills below the maximum allowable tax rate even after the 1-mill increase.

Paul Ricca

Before imposing any new tax

Before imposing any new tax the authorities have to be cautious. However, sorting out tax issues is not a simple task, so it would be better to take help of a tax consultant. These days you can approach a financial service provider online, if you need expert help for financial planning then you can find that at

Paul Ricca

When it comes to finding the

When it comes to finding the right tax solution, you should take help of a tax consultant. However, it is best to take professional help for sorting out all sorts of financial matters including insurance. If you need insurance brokerage service then you can find that at

Mary Chavez

Before introducing any new

Before introducing any new tax, the government should keep the present financial situation in mind. Now most people are facing financial problems, which is why they are not yet ready to take more burden of taxes. However, you can find a quick solution to a financial problem by accessing a payday loan which you can get from

Mary Chavez

Increasing taxes won't be a

Increasing taxes won't be a good decision, because it would create unnecessary pressure on the residents here. However, if you face any complication regarding your financial issues then you should contact a good financial services provider who offers payment gateway services in Lansing.

Paul Ricca

If people are forced to pay a

If people are forced to pay a higher amount of taxes then they have to object. The financial situation is not very bright, so before making any big move you have to be careful. It would be better if you approach a reputed financial service provider for help, for example, for your credit repairing needs you should opt for

Mary Chavez

There should not be any more

There should not be any more taxes, because the people are already under a financial pressure. Until the financial situation gets better it would be wise to not put any more burden on them. However, for meeting personal needs if you need any personal loans then you should approach

Paul Ricca

Before implementing any new

Before implementing any new tax they have to be really sure of impact it is going to make. However, now that the financial situation is so complicated it is best to take help of a reputed financial service provider who offers financial services in San Francisco and in other areas.

Andrew Cowan

Opposing taxes sometimes

Opposing taxes sometimes become necessary because of the fact that due to recession most people are under a financial pressure. But there are good investment opportunities available which could help you increase your wealth. If you need any professional help then you should approach an experienced investment advisor Katy area.

Paul Ricca

Imposing new taxes could be

Imposing new taxes could be damaging for the whole community, so before taking such a decision the government should think about this matter properly. However, during difficult financial times you have to have the right financial backup, make sure that you have the right insurance plans. If you do not want to spend hefty amount of money then you should try cheap Florida insurance coverages.


As a matter of fact, any tax

As a matter of fact, any tax increase is bad for the community. It is enough that we live in difficult financial times, no one wants another tax. There are people who apply for mortgage loans because they don't have enough money to buy their homes. There are great offers, like the ones from, but not all people have heard about them. Meanwhile, the City Hall must find new ingenious ways to raise money for the local or the national budget without these taxes.

Andrew Cowan

No one should oppose a tax

No one should oppose a tax unless there is some good reason for that. But often people face many complications while sorting out tax matters, in such situations it is best to approach a tax consultant. These days such service providers could be approached online, for instance, if someone needs QuickBooks solution he could find that at


  • Main: 706-868-1222
  • Fax: 706-823-6062
  • Email:
  • 4272 Washington Rd, Suite 3B, Evans, Ga. 30809