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So said the headline August 14, 2013 on the front page of the Record Eagle in Traverse City.
It starts off:
The chamber's Board of Directors decided to back the district's millage proposals Tuesday morning.
I have saved that particular issue (and took the 1000 word photo) as a reminder of what happens when sleepy oversight meets an aggressive enemy, particularly in an advocacy organization. Today's chamber of commerce in particular is a far different creature than it once was. Traditionally an advocate of business and growth of a community by promoting lower cost of dealing with government, fewer regulations, and growing a customer base. The model has been altered by pro-regulatory, anti competitive and progressive high tax types who have infiltrated and merely put a face of business over their anti business operations.
The article which spawned the headline touches on the example of the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce, and its support last year of a $100,000,000.00 boondoggle, and even more easily this year's reduced ($47,000,000.00 total) offering. It supports putting more of a burden on its members and those who bear the increasing liability of property ownership.
taxable properties the school receives funding from has several classifications.
Estimated Taxable Value (ad valorem) $4,230,649,648.00, the Homestead Taxable Value is $2,518,975,070.00, leaving the Non-Principal Residence Exemption Taxable Value $1,711,674,578.00 or 40.5% of the taxable value is outside of homestead residential ownership.
Remember those numbers highlighted above.
And then continue on below the fold.
(3 comments, 1219 words in story) Full Story
And this time its hard to say what might happen.
In another post it was mentioned among the comments to watch for encore performances. Indeed that IS how it goes when some of your friendly neighborhood's largest governmental units don't succeed. They try, and try again.
"A proposal to raise more money for schools in Traverse City is sailing smoothly into the November election. A much larger proposal was a disaster for the school district last year. .."And in Grand Traverse County, the encore performance would be nothing without an auditorium request, again.
Or rather a "performing arts center;" the one-time descriptive for a previous $26.5 million (part of $100 million) auditorium effort. Of course the proposed competition for Interlochen's stage market at 1200 seats and real cannons to remind folks of Shakespeare's globe (before said cannons burned it to the ground) was turned down by voters who are making decisions of paying the utilities or mortgage, and hardly wish to cough up more for what (given their circumstances) they might equate to frivolity.
Certainly, $12.9 Million is hardly too much to ask for the warm fuzzies of having a state of the art (albeit smaller) palace to entertain with the 18th straight season of Les Mis. Its truly a minor act.
Break a leg I say.
How many times must the community be betrayed by its school board before an appropriate response is meted out?
The governing body which resides over the largest public budget in the Northwestern part of the state continues to thumb its nose at taxpayers. A recent (probable) violation of the open meetings act, adds to a list of actions that are not only indicative of sloppy governance, but more likely sanctioned acts of deception and perfidy. A scheduling ruse used by the board to hide its 'open' retreat worked to its advantage with no public present, with no recordings made of the retreat activities, and no option of challenge by the public, plans that will likely be rubber stamped in future open meetings which the board normally schedules.
Examples of deceptive practices are not exactly limited to what I write here. This particular story however, notes a growing disdain for the concerns taxpayers might have for the appropriate management of their resources. There are concerns that remain unanswered.
A recent bond issue was a catalyst in engaging some of us in the Grand Traverse region with regard to the actions of the local board for Traverse City Area Public Schools. (TCAPS) The $100 million bond issue came on the 5 year anniversary of another like it in 2007. Part of the issue that inspired opposition of myself and others was the inclusion of a $26.5 million 'performing arts center' in the bond which many see as wasteful and unnecessary. The timing also coincides with one of the worst economically difficult times the region has seen.
The bond was defeated by nearly 60-40%, which might make some think it would have failed no matter the opposition.
The sad reality is that it would have likely been a reversal in percentages seen without organized resistance and the sunlight provided by that resistance.
more below the fold
(1801 words in story) Full Story
By JGillman, Section News
Using current events and local interest, it was not hard to script another free market minute.
Last week we discussed this particular issue.
No district or constituency is immune to the effect of pay-for-play politics.
How do we stop it?
(4 comments) Comments >>
By JGillman, Section News
~ In cronyism part I, the connection between government and business interests was discussed, with focus on state and federal tax dollars being used to pick winners, or at the very least recipients of government largesse. This continues the discussion on a more local level, yet ought to touch anywhere there is a school district. ~
The election was two weeks ago.
All of the study of what happened, the consequence, and the long term effect politically, has to date been pretty much reserved to the national contests. Punditry since November 6th has dissected, analyzed, and made best guesses as to why certain election had any particular results. Something generally not discussed however, has been local initiatives and issues. At least not the part where there is a conflict in government's management of our resources.
One of those issues in Northern Michigan was a bond request made by the board of Traverse City Area Public Schools. (TCAPS)
Underneath the perceived troubles in funding public education is an emerging reality. Because of the nature of taxpayer funding, and the struggle for local school districts to grab their 'fair share' of Michigan's education budget pie, expenses that were once built into operating budgets are now separated from them, and allowed to be levied through millage requests. These building fund requests allow for purchase of new infrastructure, equipment, and maintenance.
Unfortunately, once the funding had begun in this direction, it quickly became a running operative mechanism that allowed all manner of abuse to begin. Routine maintenance became the recipient of improvement monies, and improvement requests increased to fund facilities that went beyond necessary functionality. The latest request including a component that would have built a $26.5 million performing arts facility. (including all aspects of construction) The proposal for a declining student population at a cost of was easily declined by voters.
(1441 words in story) Full Story
By JGillman, Section News
Traverse City Area Public Schools are asking for a $100 million dollar bond approval. At great expense and use of time, I have been in opposition of this continued abuse of the taxpayers. This is a Re-post from GROW.TC
The election is upon us.
Voters will decide if it is worth forcing property owners to pay an additional 0.8 mil in taxes for the luxury of a Performing Art Center, destruction of wealth, and an open ended slush fund for the school district's physical desires. Part of the plan is of course to extend the FULL 3.9mil an additional 5 years.
~ If the bond request passes. ~
The Performing Arts Center
Sunday's (November 04, 2012) Record Eagle ad and also similar postcards sent out by TCAPS Citizens for Students in its pie graph uses the term "CHS Renovation" to represent its current version of the $26.5 million Performing Arts Center. This language is now consistent, and closely matches that of School board member Scott Hardy who advised the TCAPS board to deceive voters with the language "renovation" rather than face an obvious backlash for a perceived and very real luxury of "Performing Arts Center".
The pie shows it as a 16% component of proposed projects, which is also misleading in the way it suggests that it is a 'small part' of the overall project. The 16% figure is arrived at by taking the already approved and remaining from 2007 $65 million bond, and adding it to the requested $100 million on this go-round. $26.5 million is exactly 16% of $165 million.
The other deception the TCAPS board and its shill organization (TCAPS Citizens for Students - which is coincidentally run by a finance director for the schools, and funded by the local chamber) attempts, is the canard that it is ONLY $18 million that is being spent on the auditorium. They explain that the other amounts are for "school improvements, office moves, and new entry areas." Though all of those can be verifiably true, they also gloss over the fact that without the auditorium, NONE of the additional improvements would be necessary.
The Performing arts Center is in fact, the sole source of the "CHS renovation" expense.
(3 comments, 1084 words in story) Full Story
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