The last article I submitted, in the 12/14/17 edition of the Trimble Banner, I discussed two important concerns facing our district and community. Those concerns were the continuing impact of declining population and the declining condition of TCHS as a facility. I know that this caused some scurrying around among some of those who have been opposed to the nickel tax, leading them to inquire as to whether or not “I” or “the board” is getting ready to bring this back up again.
The truth is, that question is irrelevant. Unless this community is ready and open to supporting the passing of the nickel tax without petition or ballot there is little reason for me to recommend that the board take action.
The bigger question, with no disrespect intended to anyone, is why the community has not accepted the nickel tax to this point. Considering:
- The demographic in Trimble County of residents 65 and older has increased by almost 4%. Why is this important? Because anyone 65 or older can file for a Homestead Exemption and be exempt from the nickel tax. This population is often used as an excuse as to why we should not pursue the nickel tax. It would put financial strain on the elderly, but they do to have to pay the tax.
Farmers, a large group in our community, and many oppose the nickel tax, do not pay the same or as much as regular homeowners for their property. Farm land is assessed not at 100% of the value of the farm (as homeowners are) but by the assessed value of their soil. Assume the median cost per acre in Trimble County, based on soil class, is $374 per acre. ($374 median per acre is just an example. Trimble County Actual was not available at the time of writing this article.)
- A 100 acre farm that cost $2,000 per acre could be assessed at $37,400 instead of $200,000 and the increase from the nickel tax would be$21.32 instead of $114 if it was assessed at its full value of $200,000.
- A 251 acre farm could be assessed at $93,874 instead of $502,000 and the increase from the nickel tax would be $53.50 instead of $286 if it was assessed at its full value of $502,000.
- A 1,250 acre farm would be assessed at $467,500 instead of 2,500,000 and the increase from the nickel tax would be $266 instead of $1,425 if it was assessed at its full value of $2,500,000. These are substantial breaks to farmers.
- Farm owners who are 65 and over can file the homestead exemption.
These are large populations in our community that will not be required to pay the nickel tax if passed.
Based upon the population and enrollment figures that have been presented it should be alarming to the community that the 5-19 year old population of the community is declining rapidly. In the previous article I talked about the negative impact that is having on the school district, but today I want focus on the impact it has on the community. The crisis of the school district is that of a greater crisis faced by our community. It is a community that is losing, or possibly has lost, its identity. Community is supposed to be made up of young and old alike. Without the youth in a community it cannot continue to perpetuate its existence. Children and the elderly must mix in daily life for community to have both a future and a past. Our community is ceasing to have children of school age and this should be alarming to the community as a whole.
What is the identity of Trimble County? What does Trimble County want to be?
These are the questions that the community should be addressing. What is the future for Trimble County if nothing is done to change the declining population, not just in our schools but in the community as a whole?
So, no, there is no plan to bring up the nickel tax again, even though we are possibly turning down an opportunity for state funding. What would be the point if the community simply forms a petition committee, and the required number of people sign the petition again?
This article and all the questions in it are not here for those who have supported the nickel tax. It is for all of those who have opposed it. I am asking you to think about why you oppose it? Do you oppose it because you oppose me, or the board, or just because someone you know told you that you should? All of these are not really valid reasons. If you oppose and have good, sound reasoning, then you should by all means stay with your convictions. If it is a conviction it should have a valid foundation and reasoning.
I want to hear from those in the community who have opposed the tax. Despite the many meetings and opportunities I have provided in the past and open invitations for those who oppose the tax to come talk to me, I have not heard from you. This is about the community and the future of the community. Please use this link https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/WRV35ZV to take a 5 question survey regarding the nickel tax and give me some feedback. This survey is not for those who support the tax but for anyone who may oppose it. I want to repeat that there has been no board action toward another attempt at the nickel tax and no action by me to do so. This is simply offer information and to gather input.