Today's Sun editorial encourages Naperville School District 203 residents to vote for the tax-increase referendum. Here is my dissenting opinion about why they shouldn't.
By Ted Slowik, managing editor, The Naperville Sun.
There is no doubt Naperville Central High School needs repairs. One has to question the wisdom of the strategy to intentionally "defer" maintenance. This makes me uncomfortable, like my teenager telling me, "Dad, I didn't take care of the old car you let me drive, so I guess you'll have to buy me a new one." If Central is a dump, why did we let it get that way?
But what's done is done, and I'll concede that Central needs to be repaired. And an early childhood center would be nice. However, I believe D203 has enough cash reserves on hand to do these projects without going to voters and asking for more money. Draw up a budget that allows these two projects to be done using the funds the district has available, I say. (The Mill Street overcrowding problem could be addressed cheaply and creatively with redistricting.)
These are difficult times, for our economy and our nation. The economy is the No. 1 issue among voters in the presidential election--both Republican and Democratic. Right now Congress and the president are trying to rush through an economic stimulus package to CUT taxes. This is hardly the time to be asking for a tax increase.
I believe D203 did nothing wrong when it overcollected taxes after the 2002 referendum. I believe D203, once the mistake was discovered, did the right thing be keeping the money instead of refunding it to taxpayers, like other school districts did. D203 kept it, knowing it could use the money for building improvements. I say, take that money, put it to good use fixing Central and creating an ECC, and create a plan for accomplishing all the other projects at all the other schools. But I think asking taxpayers for additional funds right now creates a burden that ought not to be shouldered when our nation's leaders are trying to cut taxes to get the economy going again.