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OPINION: Vote FOR the Madison School Tax Now And Vote ‘em Out in August 2020

Editor’s note: The views and opinions expressed in a letter to the editor are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of The Madison Record.

By Hanu Karlapalem

Recently my wife and I voted by absentee ballot, proudly in favor of the property tax increase for Madison City Schools. As property owners in Madison City, our vote will cost us money. However, it is the money well and happily spent. The children and our community will benefit from the dollars dedicated to education more than any other investment. 

Due to record Madison and area growth, there will be new challenges to our city’s infrastructure, schools, and government operations. If Madison continues to grow, and that is highly likely, we will have to improve our roads, police and fire protection, schools (again), and utilities as well as expand city workspace, increase staffing, borrow increasingly. It becomes a domino effect of increasing financial needs, inability to borrow, and insufficient tax revenues.

The city council and the mayor should determine and announce the plan to accommodate those financial demands and how it will impact new residential and commercial development projects.

Each new house and apartment in Madison adds to the tax burden. Each new business the city leaders fail to attract or the tax incentives or abatements for businesses they give has an adverse effect. To date the city leaders have significantly failed to focus on the need for smart growth that includes slow pace of residential and accelerated pace of commercial and manufacturing industrial growth. They have also failed to promote the importance of convincing people to shop at Madison city licensed businesses.

The city elected officials must ensure that the resources that come from new residential growth at least offset its public costs. They should put pressure on the developers and other interested groups to contribute their fair share and pursue other means to lessen the tax burden. So far, it is not apparent that they are doing so.    

The city has posted deficit budgets in 4 of the past 5 years. The 2019 fiscal budget coming in at $4.5 million more spent than revenues being brought in. It is likely they will post another deficit budget this month and it may be an even higher number.

These elected officials have chosen to gamble Madison’s financial future on the $100 million in developers creating a debt burden for 30 years that may or may not pay off.

It is also quite noteworthy that the Mayor and the council have been silent regarding the September 10th tax vote. Their silence has been deafening, whereas the PACs and the School Superintendent continue to campaign FOR the tax. Are the city leaders taking political cover?

I encourage the voters to vote FOR the tax on Tuesday, September 10th to support the children and their education. Then I urge the voters to vote every council member and the mayor out of office in August 2020.

 

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