Letter to the Editor

Clarity for the school votes

Friday, November 30, 2012

A little clarity is needed on the upcoming votes (to fund Storm Lake High School renovation and building of an auditorium).

Resolution 1 has to do with the 1% "School Infrastructure Local Option" (SILO) sales tax that is a part of the 7% sales tax we all pay. First, this vote does not alter the sales tax. We're going to pay 7% sales tax no matter what. The question is where that 1% SILO sales tax goes.

As I understand it, the SILO sale tax money (which I'm told is about $1.5 million per year) will go to the school no matter what. Resolution 1 represents what is called a "Revenue Purpose Statement". If Resolution 1 is not approved, the money will still go to the school and, in that event, I think the school must apply the SILO money for "...Reduction of bond levies...".

So if we are for paying down existing school bonds, vote no to Resolution 1.

Even if we are for Resolution 1, where is the sunset clause?

At this point, we should be opposed to Resolutions 2 and 3. Those resolutions ask for additional funding (on top of the annual $1.5 million SILO revenue) to be collected and ultimately paid as a property tax. Property tax is not the real issue here, though.

The real issue is that the school and the city don't seem to get along. What are we to make of the public library ideas? Why in the world can the school and city not get on the same page with respect to the public park to be located on the old West School grounds? I am utterly confused about what the city and the school will do about South School.

There's another question that needs to be answered. What about the future of Storm Lake Community Education? I've heard it whispered that this service should be a function of the city, as it is in many other cities, but we all know the city cannot afford to do so. Will the school continue to fund Community Ed after it incurs a debt of $17 million?

Certainly, we should not be the community that always says "no" to progress. We should be open to ideas, especially when it comes to education. But it seems that we (the city, the school, the public library, everyone) are going in too many directions here. We need a firm, comprehensive and unified plan from all these parties.

Let's slow down and get some clarity. Let's all get on the same page before spending $17 million.