Bradley County boondoggle

Bradley County boondoggle

July 31st, 2012 in Opinion Free Press

Bradley County's Blue Springs Elementary School was hard hit by the April 27 tornadoes.

Photo by Randall Higgins/Times Free Press.

There have been a lot of stupid reasons for tax hikes throughout history. Very few, however, can match the sheer lunacy behind the Bradley County wheel tax proposal.

Advocates of the wheel tax, which will be decided by Bradley County residents on the Aug. 2 ballot, claim the tax is "for the kids." After all, the proceeds from the $32 annual vehicle tax will fund the debt created by three proposed school construction projects.

In truth, the Bradley County Board of Education and other county leaders created the crisis when they apparently decided to bulldoze a perfectly good building and now are short on the cash needed to rebuild it.

Blue Springs Elementary School was hit by the April 27, 2011, tornadoes, destroying the school's roof but, evidently, doing only minor damage otherwise. Insurance companies paid out a little less than $1 million to the school board to cover the cost of putting a new roof on the school.

Instead of repairing the roof and resuming classes at the otherwise adequate school, the county used the insurance money to, among other things, tear down the existing Blue Springs Elementary School and buy land to build a new version of the school. After the school board finished their fiscally irresponsible shenanigans, they realized they'd need to snatch more tax dollars to build the new school.

That's where the idiotic wheel tax comes in.

The $2.6 million new tax on county drivers would fund the debt service on a $34.7 million bond. The borrowed money would fund the new Blue Springs Elementary, a small addition to Walker Valley High School and an update to Lake Forest Middle School.

Wheel tax defenders claim that without the levy, there won't be enough classrooms to educate kids.

Given that argument, it seems strange that the proposed Blue Springs and Lake Forest construction projects add little, if any, additional capacity for the school district. Guess they didn't need all that extra space after all.

And why would they? Blue Springs students have been absorbed into other schools, apparently with little extra strain on the other Cleveland and Bradley County elementary schools.

Voting "yes" on the Bradley County wheel tax is like giving a child a shinier, newer toy after the brat broke his original, perfectly good toy for no good reason. The schools don't need more tax dollars, they need to learn to spend money responsibly -- and quit doing stupid things like tearing down serviceable schools.

Voting against the Bradley County wheel tax is the only way to teach Bradley County officials a much-needed lesson in respect for taxpayers' hard-earned money.