Monday, August 03, 2015

Carthage taxpayer criticizes R-9 stadium proposal

(The following commentary was submitted to the Turner Report by Trevor Walker, who lives in the Carthage R-9 School District.)

To the Patrons of the Carthage R-9 School District:

On Tuesday, August 4, you are being asked to approve an increase in the operating tax levy by 40 cents to finance the construction of a new football stadium/multi-purpose facility. If approved, this will take the operating tax levy ceiling from $2.75 to $3.15 per $100 of assessed valuation. This increase is “scheduled” to last for only 10 years. However, we have been down this road before in regards to operating tax levy increases that were supposed to sunset.

First of all, I want you to know that I am not against the school district building a new stadium. The current facility has been inadequate in many respects for years. The committee has laid out a very good case for constructing a new facility and I commend them for their research and service. However, what I am against is so quickly going back to the taxpayers for yet another capital project.

We have been told that this project will cost $10 million dollars fully completed and equipped. We have been told that district financial advisers have indicated that this amount can be raised by the 40 cent levy increase. We have been told that there could possibly be private or corporate donations and/or naming rights secured that could decrease the cost to the taxpayer by shortening the life of the tax increase.

What I challenge the school board to do is to go back, sharpen their collective pencil and work with the architects to get this facility down to a more realistic price tag for a high school stadium. Secondly, instead of convincing the taxpayers to raise taxes to pay for this project, get the corporate sponsors lined up. I think many would be willing to help fund a project like this that will be so visible along River Street. Thirdly, challenge the Booster Club to put a program together to help raise private donations. I believe that many people across this community would donate to a project like this especially if they are not being compelled to give through their property taxes.

In conclusion, you the tax paying patrons of the Carthage R-9 school district need to consider something. In 2004, the voters approved an increase in the operating levy to “save” junior high sports. This tax, too, was supposed to sunset. In 2008, voters were asked to extend the life of the tax to build a new high school. In 2013, this tax that should have been off the books was extended yet again in the so-called “no tax levy increase” bond issue to build the intermediate center. The tax levy that was approved in 2004 which was to sunset in 7 years is now part of the debt service levy and is not scheduled to go away until 2034.

I ask you Mr. and Mrs. Voter, do you really think this 40 cent tax levy will fall off the books in 10 years or sooner as we are being told. What district building project will arise in the next five to 10 years? Yes, an extension would have to be voted on, but, as we have seen, it is a lot easier to get people to approve an extension of a tax they are already paying than add a new tax. Have you ever seen a tax go away once enacted?

Please carefully consider whether you believe this is the best way to accomplish this project for the district. It may be the easiest and the quickest way, but is it truly the best.


Trent Walker

District Property Owner and parent


Anonymous said...

Come on Mr.'s for the kids...if we only save one child from becoming a criminal, it is worth it....

Anonymous said...

It's more for their well off parents so they a nice place to sit during their kids game. Maybe they could open their own wallets and pay for it themselves.i am sure they can afford it and if not they need to vote no.

Anonymous said...

As a business owner in Carthage, Mr. Walker makes the perfect case why the voters should vote yes.

He makes a case that instead of spreading the expense over the entire population, rather the district and booster club should go door-to-door or business-to-business seeking donations, sponsors and collections to complete the project.

If the voters reject this proposal, should I receive a call asking to donate to the cause, I guess my donation limit will be the 40 cent property tax as evaluated by the accessor. Instead of all of us chipping in equally, the expectations is of those who have the finances to foot the entire bill. I disagree.

My business is in such a position that investment in such a facility will result in a positive return on investment for not only my company, but several others businesses in Carthage.

I am in favor, not only because I think the student-athletes who get in done not only in the classroom, but commit to the extra work in practice, weight room, running, off season camps, etc. all in order to get an opportunity to compete whether in be the varsity on Friday, the freshman and JV on Monday's, the junior high on Tuesday's and Thursday's and our youth programs on Saturday's, they have shown the commitment, we, as a community, should get behind them and support them with our yes vote.

It amazes me that some here in Carthage can honestly speak against this matter when neighboring communities, not to mention any community by name, continue to invest into their programs with video boards, indoor practice venues, turf venues and training facilities. Even Sarcoxie (SARCOXIE!) has a turf football field.

Now is the time Carthage, we can either vote yes and invest in our student athletes today, or continue to wait and allow the communities around us make the investment and improve. Perhaps when our student athletes get tired of the politics in Carthage, they can choose to get their education and athletic opportunities in our neighboring communities.

Anonymous said...

It's not a matter of politics it's a matter of money. Obviously you don't have that problem.

Anonymous said...

Thank you to the voters who turned out and voted, whether you were for it or against it. Special thanks to the voters who voted in favor, this is a good investment for our community, it will continue to pay dividends for several decades.

An extra special thanks to those final 38 votes in favor of the tax increase for the project. I knew it would be close, just how close was a surprise to me.

While I agree, it was a matter of money, I did not feel as if it were an unnecessary waste of a taxpayer "ask." It's not like the district was asking to build some over the top venue. I felt as if the district was staying within itself in seeking to build a venue that can serve our community for the next 70-80 years. While it is hard to forecast changes in growth and enrollment decline, I feel confident the new venue will be used, will remain busy and the district will do its best to maintain it for decades to come. While the immediate return on investment comes with our local student athletes, there is the potential to grow the impact on the potential of this new venue.

It's a great day to be a Tiger.