Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Park Tax - School Tax

The Monday night City Council vote on the “cum cap” (Cumulative Capital Development Fund) was not particularly important. Setting the CCD rate has been a kind of financial kabuki for 25 years. The city (usually) picks the highest possible rate. The state cuts the rate, factors it against assessment, and gives the city a dollar number. Then you re-roof the park’s barn with “cum cap” money instead of precious general fund dollars that can then be used for salaries or paper clips or bullets or gasoline. The conventional financial wisdom, and the reason for the Clerk Treasurer’s proposal, is that you take whatever you can get from the state while you can because next time you may get less.

Ann Hunt (District #3) and I thought it was too soon in the chaotic 2010 budget process to throw away $60,000. (This is nothing like the $600,000 Excessive Levy (Res.22-08) the Republican Administration asked for last November.) We lost. So it goes.

More interesting was Danny Weiss’s remarks later in the evening and the Mayor’s response. The CHAUNC PAC leader (his neighborhood straddles Districts #2 and #3) commented that lots of folk wouldn’t mind a tax increase for a good cause. Mayor Dennis suggested he make a contribution to the Park Fund.

Which means, I suppose, that instead of a tax increase in support of the West Lafayette schools, we should all make a contribution to the West Lafayette Schools Education Foundation. Which means, I suppose, that should it come to a “revenue enhancement” for the schools, the school board will depend on rescue from the voters in two Democratic districts it has regularly dismissed (remember Sarah Mustillo; scroll down for that entry 8/11/08) and whose issues it has consistently ignored and where “SOS” yard signs are currently very, very rare. Districts where people wouldn’t mind a tax increase for a good cause.

I believe that if it is legal, and if the Department of Local Government Finance can be cajoled into going along with the plan, the School Board could win that tax vote. There are about 30,000 people in West Lafayette, about 10,000 are registered to vote, and about 4,500 voted in the last municipal election. There are 2000 children in our schools. If the parents vote, you win a May 2010 vote!

Progressives are not much troubled by that idea. True conservatives should lobby folks to vote against it on ideological grounds . . . and then write a check to the School Foundation.
Or the Park Fund.

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