The Knox County Mayor is proposing more than $400 million for Schools. That's a $13 million increase over last year. The schools are asking for an additional $35 million this year. That would require at least a $0.35 property tax increase -- that's a 15 percent tax hike! Personal property is taxed at 25 percent of assessed value, whereas small businesses are taxed at 40 percent of assessed value of their property.
Now, in this economy, is not the time to raise taxes!
•A property tax increase is going to hurt families, single mothers, seniors on fixed income, small businesses and anyone else who is just trying to make ends meet.
In the end, everyone in Knox County pays more, the increase will trickle down from property/ home owners to those who rent from them.
•For some, a tax increase may mean giving up Starbucks or a fancy dinner (as the head of the Chamber, Mike Edwards, said in the newspaper), but for many families it means giving up a loaf of bread, a gallon of milk, not putting gas in the car to get to work, etc.
•Taking more money from taxpayers to throw at a problem is not and never will be the solution.
•$400 million is plenty of money to teach children how to read.
•Children need parents engaged in their education -- parents need to be in the schools, talking to teachers, making sure homework is done...and involved at home. No amount of money is going to fill that need.
•An iPad or other device is not going to suddenly teach children how to read.
•More than half of Knox County's 3rd grade students aren't reading at grade level. Wireless internet, iPads, etc., will not change that. Direct interaction with teachers, spending time with books, with parents reading, etc. will change that...and that does not cost $35 million. That does not require a $35 million tax increase.
We the residents and taxpayers of Knox County respectfully request that you decline to support the School Board's proposed budget requesting an additional $35 million above the budget outlined by Mayor Burchett. Granting their request will place a heavy tax burden on everyone in Knox county; small business owners, property/ home owners...and ultimately those they rent to as the increase will trickle down, and landlords will be forced to pass the increased cost to their renters. We cannot afford to fund a multimillion dollar budget right now. We do not see the accountability for additional tax dollars, and cannot afford to pay the additional tax dollars. Small businesses are struggling, there are empty buildings and store fronts all over Knoxville and we are certain that an additional tax burden on these already over-taxed businesses will ultimately kill them, resulting in loss of revenue for the county, loss of jobs/ wages for a working class, and ultimately the detriment of our fair county/ city as it fills with even more empty office space, and commercial real estate property.
In a society where the children are already bombarded with technology and more often than not know better how to use it than adults (as admitted by Staff from the Stem Academy) but cannot read proficiently and are lacking in advanced mathematical skills we do not understand the neccessity in spending millions of dollars on iPads or other non-specified expenses. We are alarmed at the statistics about 3rd reading proficiency levels. Right now in a struggling economy we need to focus on areas we can improve, areas that are virtually budget neutral, and make the school board prove themself before spending such a large sum of money. This is about far more than just $35 million. If we are to do something for the children, let's focus on more community and parental involvement. Let's focus on extended school days for kindergarteners. Let's focus on the reading initiative Mayor Burchett has already funded and backed. We need not fail another generation of upcoming children by failing to ensure they can read proficiently. We need to focus on setting up ways to make the school board, the teachers and the individual schools accountable for how they spend tax dollars and student achievement. Money will not fix the problems in our schools. Already we see statistics that prove we are spending roughly $11,000 per student at Austin-East, while spending roughly $4000 per student at schools like Farragut. Obviously more expenditure does NOT equal better test scores.
As it stands now, we do not see the increase as merited. As it stands now we cannot afford to pay an increased tax. As members of our county commission; we ask you as property owners, voters, and tax payers to please listen to the voice of the majority. Ignore for a moment the threats from the other side, the political plays they attempt to make, the name calling and the arrogance. If nothing else, put it on a ballot. Let us have a real say so. Make it fair. Just please don't start down this slippery slope....don't dump huge sums of tax payer dollars into a system that can't manage what they're already given. It will not fix it...and will harm the greater good of the community as a whole.