Residents in Platte County have sent a clear message in recent years regarding tax increases. They don’t like them, and they don’t want them.That’s become painfully obvious.
The words fiscal and conservative have become so commonly used together that the term they form in combination seems to have lost meaning around here. But all the politicians want to be one because it’s the hip trend in Platte County.
Being in charge of asking for a tax increase can be a very arduous task, one Dr. Mike Reik became well experienced with in 2011-12.
Platte County R-3’s superintendent has started the process of tackling this again in hopes of upgrading facilities for an ever-growing student population. The district’s growth management plan outlines the numbers, and they don’t look good in the coming years, especially after repeated attempts to Band-Aid the problem in the past.
Quite simply, Platte County’s infrastructure was never in place to handle the amount of students currently in the district. Officials have played a constant game of catch-up, always able to temporarily solve the problem before facing it again a short time later.
Barring some type of disastrous economic event, Platte County’s enrollment will get bigger, and there’s another painfully obvious problem developing.
There’s not enough room in Platte County’s current seven-building setup.
That’s why the work has started to develop a 20-year property tax increase for those who live in the district to help fund upgrades and a new elementary school in Platte City. You can read more on Reik’s initial presentation for this school year to the board of education starting on A1 of this week’s edition.
There once was a time where this type of funding would receive the rubber stamp from voters without much opposition. This is not that time.
Reik knows that reaching voters without current or future students and those with limited incomes will be the key. He figured out as much when a similar, but indefinite, tax levy failed in spring of 2012.
About 56 percent voted no in that election, and Platte County must swing that majority to achieve its preferred outcome. What should be remembered but will probably become blurred during the coming months while discussion inevitably rages over cost-benefit is that something must be done. The district will need to spend money to help house the growing student population. Voters need to decide what would make the most efficient use of the tax money they provide to the school will be.
I can’t tell you how to vote.
But I will urge you to remember that money will be spent, and if growth estimates continue close to the current trend, there will need to be more money spent in the future. At one time, tax payers helped fund your education, either here, or in another district. It’s not fun to pay the bill, but education isn’t an elective expense to me.
So I guess I can forget about my fiscal conservative membership.
Another interesting possibility from Reik’s initial proposal would be the development of a boundary line committee if plans were adopted close to what his presentation outlines.
The big piece of the upgrades and construction would be a new elementary school in Platte City and the transition of Siegrist Elementary into a K-5 facility rather than its current 1-3 setup.
With two K-5 facilities replacing the current Rising Star-to-Siegrist-to-Paxton flow in Platte County’s northern campus, decisions would have to be made on which students go where. There’s been no talk yet, but Reik did outline the need for that discussion if the district is successful in this bid.
I’ve had a chance to interact with a significant number of the 43 participants in the Missouri Photo Workshop you might have seen roving Platte City on bicycles seeking out citizens with stories to tell. It’s been a great experience, even if it derailed me from some of my duties here.
At risk of sounding like a cheerleader, I think this is an awesome experience for this community and what a unique opportunity. I would encourage anyone with the opportunity — Platte City and beyond — to attend the exhibit of work accumulated from the participating photographers this weekend. The display will be set up in the main hallway at Platte City Middle School with public viewing set for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sept. 27.
Take the time to see if anyone you knew made the cut as a subject. Should be fun.
Ross Martin is publisher of The Citizen. He may be reached via email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @Citizen_Ross.