Another taxpayer bailout

Columbia County school board votes to dig deeper into property owners' pockets

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The world economy was already limping along. Now forecasters expect it to be crawling at a snail's pace, due to high oil prices, Japan's meltdown and Europe's financial meltdown. Those things and more will apply brakes to any recovery the economy can muster.

With between a quarter and a third of U.S. home sales being foreclosures over the past year -- and with foreclosures 27 percent cheaper on average than other homes -- values have sunk.

It is in this real-world environment that the Columbia County Board of Education voted last week to raise taxes on property owners.

The half-mill increase, to raise $1.9 million, will cost taxpayers $24 for every $100,000 of house.

The school board could have reduced or even eliminated the added burden on property owners by issuing employee furloughs of up to three days, much as many private entities have had to do -- as well as layoffs and consolidations. Nope. They voted 4-1 to put the full financial burden on you.

Board member Mike Sleeper was the only one with enough sense to oppose it.

"I find it difficult to go to our community to shoulder this (alone)," Sleeper said. Good for him. Bad for taxpayers that he was outvoted.

The world has changed. The taxpayer's wallet has bottomed out every bit as much as home prices. When will some people learn that?

Public hearings on the tax increase will be held at 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. July 12 and 8 a.m. July 19.

You may want to let them know what you think.

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Riverman1
84011
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Riverman1 05/31/11 - 05:26 am
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The Columbia County News

The Columbia County News Times myopically said everything, including a tax hike should have been on the table. It was well known before the meeting that the BOE was prepared to raise taxes, yet the CCNT felt it was best for "all to share the pain" and didn't oppose the measure. The excessive salaries for administrators from assistant principals to Mr. Nagle were not examined. That's a shame. But if nothing else, I guess it proves the CCNT indpendence from the AC. So the delay in purchasing textbooks means what? Another tax hike later?

draksig
167
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draksig 05/31/11 - 05:29 am
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When a government politician

When a government politician or bureaucrat says everyone needs to share the pain, they mean "All of You", not them.

burninater
9583
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burninater 05/31/11 - 06:57 am
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Let's see, $24 of $100,000 is

Let's see, $24 of $100,000 is an increase of 0.00024%. Or, for every $100,000 of home value, 6.5 pennies per day. A bottle of soda financed over an entire month. I understand the principle of this editorial, but I tell you what: if you aren't smart about how you pick your fights, pretty soon you're that toothless cur under the porch that growls at everyone and is taken seriously by noone.

southernguy08
499
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southernguy08 05/31/11 - 07:07 am
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Amen to that DRAK. Reminds me
Unpublished

Amen to that DRAK. Reminds me of our wonderful, "compassionate" congress and president passing healthcare legislation, then conveniently exempting themselves from that very legislation.

onlysane1left
216
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onlysane1left 05/31/11 - 08:21 am
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I couldn't agree more,

I couldn't agree more, Burninater; That was my thought exactly after I read this piece. $24 less out of my pocket, but I would rather pay that then have things taken away from the children.

Rhetor
1010
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Rhetor 05/31/11 - 08:34 am
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Schools across the SE are

Schools across the SE are badly underfunded to start with. And you want to cut more? I'm sorry, but that is wrong, wrong, wrong. One point: if we have fewer educated citizens, then you'll have fewer readers, and your circulation will drop, drop, drop. Think about it.

Riverman1
84011
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Riverman1 05/31/11 - 09:11 am
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Matter of fact, Georgia has

Matter of fact, Georgia has increased teacher salaries 45 percent over the last decade. If the cost of living is included Georgia is ranked third highest in teacher pay although we are only ranked 21st in per capita income. The educators work 10 months a year and make an average of 150% the salary of the average Georgian. Columbia County pays a supplement to teachers, but most of the administrators also draw the supplement in addition to their already high salaries that are out of line with the national average. Do tell me the reason administrators are paid a supplement.

The editorial covers well what has happened to the economy. Realize the cost to cover state employees' health care is going to exceed 20 billion dollars in the near future and it's unfunded. That's more than the entire current state budget. Cost cutting measures with state employees needs to start now.

The whole discussion reminds me of Gov. Christie in NJ telling the teachers they have been lied to in the past. He said he won't lie to them and if they want to save their future retirement benefits they better start right now making cuts.

Regina Buccafusco stated she voted for the raise in order to keep kids in school. Please tell me what cutting the pay of administrators and possibly teachers has to do with keeping kids in school or taking away things from children?

Stop the supplement for administrators NOW!!!

Chillen
17
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Chillen 05/31/11 - 10:02 am
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Who raises taxes in a

Who raises taxes in a recession? The good ole' boys of Columbia County, that's who. They make me sick and I intend to do my best to make sure they get voted out when they are up for re-election.

Heaven forbid they should think out of the box and make some expense cuts. Or figure out a way to use funds from another dept to scrape by in a massive recession.

Politicians are greedy and power hungry from the very top (Top O' the mornin' O'bama) to the very bottom (the CC school board).

I guess our "esteemed" and "prestigious" local school board missed the report that gas has doubled in price in the last 2 years. That the 8 key food staples are up by 73% over the last year causing food prices of all products to skyrocket.

Nope, as long as they get theirs & don't have to make the hard choices, that's all that matters.

I notice that the liberals on here are in unison that we need this tax increase. Typical. It's being "taken from the children" they say (right out of the national play book). Nope, it's lining the pocket of administrators and dept of education pensions. And you all are OK with that? I thought you hated people who earned a much better than average income? Hypocrites.

woodymeister
252
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woodymeister 05/31/11 - 11:52 am
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Chillen - I could not wait

Chillen - I could not wait for you to chime in on this article. I am a conservative father and husband in Columbia County. My children attend public schools in the county. I am a tax payer in the county. I am a property owner in the county. I fail to understand your point in this except for the school board has obviously crossed you somewhere along the line. How do you feel about Columbia County Commisioners voting to not allow Augusta Prep to install lights for a football field? Did that bother you as well?

Where do you stand on firing all the bus drivers in Columbia County schools and using a private organization to handle it? How about the custodial staffs in all of the schools - are you in favor if firing all of them and hiring a private company to take care of all of that work as well? Those topics were presented to the CCBOE and were turned away because of the impact to employees and their families. Do good ole' boys make those decisions because it benefits them? By the way, pay attention and you'll notice that of the five board members, three are women, not good ole' boys.

Further cuts to the staffs in our school systems would without a doubt further contribute to the dumbing down of our children and ultimately our society as a whole.

Riverman1
84011
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Riverman1 05/31/11 - 12:09 pm
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The simple fact is we are not

The simple fact is we are not cutting costs with salary reductions and other means to offset the coming calamity. Politicians refuse to address the isssue and keep paying public employees the same, saying future growth will make it possible to pay the coming bills. Georgia tax revenue is decreasing, not increasing. Don't you guys get it?

It has been shown time and time again, that it's the demographics of a school district that most affects test scores and discipline, not the amount of money thrown at a school system. Give the families of the county credit.

Chillen
17
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Chillen 05/31/11 - 12:23 pm
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woody. The school board

woody. The school board crossed me when they raised my taxes. Otherwise I've had no dealings with them (thankfully because they seen quite inept).

I am a fiscal conservative and I stand firmly for small government and low taxes. I don't care if it's $100, $20, $500, or $10,000. A tax increase is an increase and its wrong.

Only the liberals on here agree with you woodymeister. All the conservatives including the Chronicle do not agree with you. You call yourself a conservative? Self check time.

Personally, I believe that public schools should not provide transportation to school at all. The people who have the children (i.e. the parents) should get them to school. It is not the taxpayers responsibility.

Regarding the Augusta Prep lights, the commissioners were wrong. They are a private business and mean no harm to anyone. Though I don't see why that is relevant here?! Government intervention....yet again.

Cuts must be made and will eventually be made to education. They've got to figure out how to make do with less. Less shiny new buildings and more quality education. Their budget priorities are all out of whack.

Willow Bailey
20580
Points
Willow Bailey 05/31/11 - 12:53 pm
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Government on all levels are

Government on all levels are drunk on greed, power and spending.

socks99
250
Points
socks99 05/31/11 - 02:49 pm
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My own school board reached

My own school board reached the Constitutional limit on its millage rate several years back and, of course, has kept its spending on the red-line ever since.

Unfortunately, the tax revenue bonanza that was the great housing bubble, has brought into the political sphere many leaders with no management experience, and no appreciation for how important fiscal stewardship can be. Just considering the fate of a single homeowner who loses his home to foreclosure is lesson enough for most folks. If BOE's plan to continue spending apace, well, the economy will teach them lesson after lesson. Ultimately, the spendthrift leaders will be drummed-out of office, and replaced with more competent folks who appreciate where the educational resources come from.

NewHere
0
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NewHere 05/31/11 - 03:07 pm
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0
Close the schools, give me

Close the schools, give me the money back...send kids to for profit schools....waste of time and money.

woodymeister
252
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woodymeister 05/31/11 - 03:31 pm
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Chillen - Augusta Prep is a

Chillen - Augusta Prep is a private business as you stated and obviously support. Why did the commisioners get involved? Because that private business pays ZERO tax dollars. Why? As a fiscal conservative, do you agree that a business such as that should not pony up and pay taxes...when the recession is coming, the recession is coming.....

You did not ask the question as posed: Do you think they should have fired all bus drivers and all custodial staff and made it private? Simple question-how do feel about it?

Riverman1
84011
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Riverman1 05/31/11 - 03:38 pm
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Speaking of Augusta Prep,

Speaking of Augusta Prep, I'll bet my bottom dollar their educators don't make what Columbia County public school educators do. Plus, they have better results.

class1
299
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class1 05/31/11 - 03:48 pm
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Why should the homeowners

Why should the homeowners bare all the burden of a tax increase. Why not furlough the teachers for a some days?

ECDanes
1
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ECDanes 05/31/11 - 04:00 pm
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I don't live in COlumbia

I don't live in COlumbia COunty, but I understand it is the fastest growing county in the region. Didn't they add like over 30,000 people in the last ten years where Richmond limped along with less than 800 person increase? Isn't Columbia County considered one of the most desirable locations in the region to live and buy a home? Aren't property values higher in Columbia County on avaerage than probably any other county in the region? And what do you think the main reason for that is? Could it be the school system? The School system is the #1 selling factor for Columbia County. I can guarantee you it is the main reason why people moved there and are willing to pay more for a home. So does the county really want to jeopardize it's # 1 selling point? This is hardly a massive tax increase. YOu are talking less than $50 a year for a $200K home... that's about 14 cents a day. I do think the folks can live with that, especially if it means protecting county's number one assett.. it's education system. Have you thought of what furloughs may do to the quality of education?

Chillen
17
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Chillen 05/31/11 - 04:05 pm
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Woody. Schools, PTSO's,

Woody. Schools, PTSO's, booster clubs, etc are non-profit. Govt AND private ones. What difference does that make as to whether or not they should have lights? You make a weird argument & comparison. Sorry, but I don't see your point at all as it relates to our looming tax increase.

Regarding privatizing bus drivers and custodial staff - if it saves money to privatize it then it must be done. I'm sure the private agency hired needed good staff & hired the ones that were competent.

Question is. How can a private firm do it cheaper? With their overhead & everything plus profits.....could it be that government is inefficient? Could it be that govt overpays for the job? Could it be that pensions & benefits are out of control? BINGO!!!!!!!

Riverman, you are correct, private school teachers make a pittance of what public school teachers make and in most cases, they do a better job. Test scores & facts don't lie.

As I said to you before woody, you seem passionate about this increase. Please, send in double school taxes on the home you own so that the rest of us will have to pay less. It's the least you can do.....for the children you know. The administration would just LOVE to have your money. I'm sure they'll put it to great use.

stumped
3
Points
stumped 05/31/11 - 04:21 pm
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Please don't take this out on

Please don't take this out on the teachers. Teachers have been furloughed for two years. The school year has been shortened by two days. To be asked to pay $24 for every $100,000, is cheap education. See what it would cost to go to private school. We don't want to lose the quality of education our kids receive in Columbia County.

Chillen
17
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Chillen 05/31/11 - 04:28 pm
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0
ECDanes. I suggest you read

ECDanes. I suggest you read the post from Riverman at 12:09. It's the families that make the difference.

Don't you think those 30,000 people added some serious bucks to the education depts budget? That is about 10,000 new homes paying about $2500 each just in school property taxes. That is $25 MILLION dollars more per year. Plus the SPLOST money those people add to the budget by shopping in CC.

Chillen
17
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Chillen 05/31/11 - 04:31 pm
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0
stumped. You won't find most

stumped. You won't find most folks here taking it out on the teachers. The administration is the dept who needs to make the cuts. The buildings need to be made less state of the art. The benefits & pensions are going to have to change. The camels back is broken. They just haven't realized it yet.....

Spelunkerman
13
Points
Spelunkerman 05/31/11 - 04:34 pm
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0
Riverman, what do you do for

Riverman, what do you do for work? I'm betting you are retired and drawing a nice pension aren't you? I am a father of school children in Columbia County and am thankful we have leadership to make the tough decisions. I am also thankful for our educators who have chosen a career that impacts so many lives in such a positive way. You are so out-of-line with comparing private school and public schools. Private schools have the option to pick and choose who attend their school; keep class sizes down to provide more one on one instruction; and the ability to refuse enrollment.
Chillen, I am fiscally conservative and agree government spending and taxes needs to be reduced; however, sometimes temporary adjustments need to occur. Take a look at the historical data from our county and you will see that the Board of Education has voted to reduce the tax burden to the residents.
The reality is we aren't living here due to the amenities the county government is providing, it's also because of the quality education our children receive.

ECDanes
1
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ECDanes 05/31/11 - 04:37 pm
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With the influx into CC..

With the influx into CC.. (just look at the latest census).. creating more demands on the school system.. there's just only so much you can cut.. How can you continually keep cutting when there are more and more demands being placed on trhe system (more students) without compromising the quality of education? Now Maybe someone should talk about impact fees to help meet the demands the school system faces to close the budget gap.. so that the newcomers are the ones paying instead of all homeowners.. now that may be an idea. But I know for myself. I would rather spend that extra 14 cents a day to keep a stellar public education system from being eroded further, but that's just me, and yes it's a lot cheaper than private school.

NewHere
0
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NewHere 05/31/11 - 04:44 pm
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My parents payed for private

My parents payed for private schools, close them all down...safe the money...if you can go to private school, go out and work on the peach farms.

ncbravesfan
0
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ncbravesfan 05/31/11 - 04:58 pm
0
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woody, ‘I am a conservative

woody, ‘I am a conservative father and husband in Columbia County.’
After reading your comment you might to rethink that statement about being a ‘conservative’.

fiscallyresponsible
141
Points
fiscallyresponsible 05/31/11 - 05:45 pm
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You are either fiscally

You are either fiscally conservative or you are not. You can't pick & choose the issues you personally deem OK to tax & spend on. It doesn't work that way.

A case can be made for each & every spending program - the stimulus, food stamps, welfare, free housing, military spending, foreign aid, new libraries, new schools, fancy street lights, a multi-million dollar pond in West Lake that county residents are not allowed to use, whatever.....everybody wants something!!! At some point you have to draw the line.

Raising taxes in a recession is not a good thing and these school board members will be remembered at election time.

Riverman1
84011
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Riverman1 05/31/11 - 06:44 pm
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Spelunkerman said, "Riverman,

Spelunkerman said, "Riverman, what do you do for work? I'm betting you are retired and drawing a nice pension aren't you? I am a father of school children in Columbia County and am thankful we have leadership to make the tough decisions. I am also thankful for our educators who have chosen a career that impacts so many lives in such a positive way. You are so out-of-line with comparing private school and public schools. Private schools have the option to pick and choose who attend their school; keep class sizes down to provide more one on one instruction; and the ability to refuse enrollment."

Haha...wish I were retired. I fight the good battle and pay LOTS in taxes. Want to compare assessments? Talk about out-of-line posts...

But back to the subject. I would say private school teachers have lots more pressure on them to have superior results. One of my friends son graduated from Augusta Prep a few years ago and he got into Harvard. I'll guess their results are superior to any public school in the country. If you have the money your child can attend if he/she is not a discipline problem. You don't have to be a genius to get in. But what you are really trying to say is that it's the families that make the schools and superior results. I couldn't agree more with that. Keep it in mind when we brag about county public schools.

Let's examine the facts. Government salaries should reflect the salaraies in the private sector in the same occupations. Private school teachers work for less money, few benefits without a retirement plan. Georgia teachers are the 3rd highest paid in the nation when the cost of living is factored in. 12th in the nation straight up. They have received a 45% increase in salary in the last decade. The county also gives so teachers and administrators a supplement. What has happened to the private sector in the past ten years?

Lastly, remember my earlier post concerning the unfunded 20 billion dollar time bomb with employee health care that is ticking? That's lots more than the ENTIRE current state budget. We have to start cutting somewhere to fund the health care system for employees. It's simply a numbers situation and luckily our educators are so well paid now they can endure cuts. I do know the facts on this situation.

woodymeister
252
Points
woodymeister 05/31/11 - 07:48 pm
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ok ncbravesfan, you convinced

ok ncbravesfan, you convinced me. I guess i'm not a conservative. I am, however, proud to live in columbia county where hard working people (govt employee or not) are willing to step up and pay the increase without a temper tantrum. 13.5 cents per day to keep my kids in a great school system without damaging the integrity of those who work in it? I'm a new found liberal and i feel great!!!

fiscallyresponsible
141
Points
fiscallyresponsible 05/31/11 - 08:47 pm
0
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If you live in a $350,000

If you live in a $350,000 house (LIKELY in columbia county) then you will pay about $85 per year more or $2550 more over the lifetime of your mortgage. That's not small change to me woodymeister.

Go ahead and trivialize it. But don't forget to add your SPLOST tax, your new gas tax, and all the hundreds of other taxes you pay - both directly AND indirectly. American's are taxed to death. The effective rate of someone who makes about $150,000 is well over 50% to the government.

Enjoy your workday tomorrow woodymeister. Because for half or more of it you are working for the man. The good old US government. Think about the crap you go through, just to turn over half of it over. For security and the promise of better things to come. Yea right.

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