|To the Editor: Democracy died at Otsego meeting|
|Written by Tom Zulch|
|Wednesday, 29 July 2009 08:50|
We watched as democracy died Monday night with the board vote to build a new elementary school without a vote of the people. For a board that knew a vote would bring defeat and wanted to use those free (?) state dollars so bad they could taste them, this was a way to get what they wanted. Supported by employees and spouses of employees, the superintendent and a few private citizens thrown in for good measure, fiscal reality was ignored.
For all those people who showed up at the elementary school meetings, and the 78 percent who voted against the last two operating levies, you forgot to show up and protect your thoughts, ideas, principals, and most importantly - your rights as a voter to have your voice heard. As Americans who grew up with all the privileges of living in the land of the free you should - both sides - be ashamed of your actions. The non-action caused the loss of the most precious of your rights - your vote. The board vote also caused the same.
Reality will come to bear with the resulting fiscal mess. Otsego is facing a five-year projected deficit of over $2 million. It has an aging bus fleet that needs replaced. It has an expensive gross payroll that needs trimmed and a superintendent who refuses to do that.
It now has a percentage of voters who will vote no on any levy because of the large amount of voters who wanted to maintain the local elementary buildings. Wood County has an unemployment rate of almost 12 percent, that will not help either.
The high school building is eating up an additional mill (over $200,000) in operating cost each year, and another new building will do the same. Improvements to the old high school will also add to the cost of operation. The payment on another loan is estimated to be over $300,000 and since there has been no levy approved for it, must come from the general fund - already facing a $2 million dollar deficit. There will be a reduction in state aid and the school is losing students, forcing more loss of state dollars. There may be some stimulus money come in, but that is a one time thing. There may also be a property tax loss with the closing of the elementary schools and the resulting devaluing of property in the affected villages.
In order for this to work, there must be additional operating levies passed. They will not be small. Otherwise there will be massive cuts - and they will not be small or welcomed.
The end result - the pleasure of a new building may soon turn to the pain of reality - kind of like oats after going through the horse.
Good luck board, you put quite a load on yourself - and even more on an unwilling taxpayer. You may want to practice saying, Hello, state control, and at that point your job and the superintendent's are gone, might be a good thing.
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