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OUR READERS WRITE...

October 30, 2011
Salem News

Claims other letter writer's 'facts' wrong

To the editor: In recent letters to the editor, Mr. Stamp provided what I'm sure he considered factual information and calculations and encouraged readers to do their homework. So I did my homework and found that much of his information is incorrect. First, United did not move an inside mill. He is absolutely right that this is a way that a school district can increase their tax revenue without a vote. Several county schools have done this. United could have done this to fund the current, proposed project. The truth is, United has not! Second, Mr. Stamp calls a voted tax an "extra tax." He does not mention that United has less millage than any other district in the county with the exception of East Palestine. According to the Columbiana County auditor's Web site, school levy taxes per $1,000 valuation are: East Palestine-29.6, United-33.4, Lisbon-37.1, Columbiana-37.2; Crestview-38.92, Southern-42.24 and Salem-52.25. United has a percent income tax and Crestview and Columbiana have a 1 percent income tax. For those that don't realize it, if United were to dissolve, school district lines would be redrawn and property owners would have to pay that district's taxes. Third, Mr. Stamp implies that the board of education and the levy committee are misinforming the public when they talk about borrowing $9.75 million. If you borrow $100,000 for 30 years for a home, do you call it a $190,515 mortgage? I think our residents are smart enough to know that any time money is borrowed, there will be interest. With regard to $5,100 archery equipment: It came from a grant from the National Archery in Schools program and Whitetail Archery. This is just one example of many items and programs funded through grants at United. In regard to light bulb fund: The bulbs are for the football field (not soccer) and it is there in anticipation of the need to replace football lighting. With respect to the criticism that United isn't buying iPads and other modern technology: there is no point in buying technology that cannot be used in our buildings. The computer software for routing buses did cost $8,300. In the first year, it saved the district $27,280 by calculating one less route. This translates into one less bus, one less bus driver, and 20,000 fewer miles! A bus costs about $72,000, which will be an additional savings. What at first glance looked like a wasteful expenditure to Mr. Stamp turned out to wise investment. Mr. Stamp suggests that United should buy valves and thermostats to solve the building heating problems. United does buy them as needed. The problem is that the heating system in the elementary and junior high area was not designed for all the wings and additions it serves. Purchasing valves and thermostats, or even a new boiler will not solve the problem. An entire new system is needed. This is one of the many reasons renovating would be so expensive and so impractical. The last issue I will mention is the cost of the "board's expensive expert." No local money, taxes or otherwise, went into his pocket. It is standard practice for architectural firms to provide assistance with bond issues. In addition, architects only receive payment if a building project is approved.

One major point that Mr. Stamp made was that the cost of educating children has gone up phenomenally. I couldn't agree more. So has the cost of feeding children, clothing them, keeping them healthy etc. In addition to inflation, the state and federal governments have also placed very costly demands on schools and teachers at the same time they are cutting funding. In all likelihood this opportunity to receive 79 percent of the cost of a building project will also be cut in the near future. United has not had "new" money since the one half percent income tax in 1991 (twenty years ago.) United has not had "new" money for a building project since 1984 (27 years). The newest third of our buildings, which are intended to be kept, were all built without additional taxes. That's pretty impressive! Our one room schools were fine when most of our employment revolved around agriculture. We progressed to our current building when employment revolved around industry. The building we need now is one that will reflect current employment trends that revolve around information and communication. Yes, students will still need a building and teachers. Students will not stay at home (alone?) at a computer.

If you do nothing else to learn about this issue, plan to go to United at 7 p.m. the night before you cast your vote. Ask questions. See the building. Make an informed decision. If you are unable to do that, go to www.unitedlevy.com. The children of our community are depending on you.

JOAN GIBSON, Salem

More reader comment on United Local levy

To the editor: Regarding the United Local Bond Levy for a new school: Well, it has been a respectful campaign and all of the questions and concerns have been answered. A fair number of interested people attended the town hall meetings and the most common reply was "Thank you for holding this event," or "Well, I have a different perspective now." Also, there has been far more personal, one-to-one contact with likely voters on Nov. 8. These are encouraging signs, but just in case you haven't been asked: Please consider voting "for" the United Local 3.92 mill bond levy. It really comes down to this: Pay now or pay (more) later. Actually, much more than 3.92 mills and probably for a longer period than 37 years. If we turn down this ballot issue, then we won't have the state assistance at this level - if at all -and no doubt construction costs will continue to rise. If we were to renovate only the most urgent items at our own expense, we will most likely have to do it in 10 year increments for 30-40 years just to make it somewhat affordable. Otherwise, the millage might be double what is being proposed now and classrooms still too small. The construction cost for the proposed, all new PK-12 school is only $400,000 more than a total renovation. When the cost for temporary classrooms is added, the total renovation is likely to cost more than all new buildings! Nor can the cost of total renovation assign a cost on lost instruction time due to the major distraction of relocating classrooms. I recently talked with a former United junior high teacher, football and track coach who is now a school administrator in Sydney, Ohio. He said several years ago they renovated the high school where he was the principal and shared with me that the experience for the students was, "Horrible. Don't do it [total renovation]. I would never suggest to anyone to make that decision with what I know now." This is our time. This is our opportunity to bring back $30 million of our state money for $9.75 million of local money. If we don't approve this then some other school district in Ohio will benefit from our failure. Let's not pass on this opportunity. As we have shared with each other at the town hall meetings, we are all in this together. We are United. Our school is the center piece of our community. Let it be better than we are now. Let the positive side of who we are come through and stand together for a brighter future for generations to come.

SEAN LOGAN, Lisbon

If not now, when and at what cost?

To the editor: The United Local School District has a bond issue on the Nov. 8 ballot to rebuild most of the current school facilities. It has recently come to my attention how much "our share" has gone up since the school board last attempted to pass a bond issue 10 years ago. Not only would we now be paying a significantly higher percentage of the total cost, building costs have risen 43 percent since 2001. Residents of United: if not now, when, and at what cost? 2001- Our share 10 percent

2011- Our share 21 percent (this rate locked in until June) June 2012- Our share 24 percent; 2022- Our share----?; 2032- Our share----? Can you see a trend developing? If state budget cuts continue, it is likely that this program will end, and we will have to pay 100 percent of the cost of any future improvements. In 2007, South Range passed a bond issue to cover 48 percent of the cost of a new building. Their superintendent was quoted in the Salem News as saying that if they had waited until now to pass their bond issue, their share would have gone up to 62 percent! That's over a 29 percent increase in just four years. Vote for the United Local bond issue on Nov. 8 while the state is still willing to pay the majority of the cost. Let's bring some of our tax dollars back to United if we don't use them, the next school in line will! It is the only practical decision we can make in order to ensure a future of excellence for generations to come!

JENNIFER JOHNSON, Salem

There are those who want levy, those who don't

To the editor: I have been listening, watching and reading to all comments made on the ULSD bond issue. At least two letters on the subject made absolutely no sense to me at all. The letter from a person named Sue (I will not divulge their last name] talking to fourth-grade students from another school district. Are you kidding me? Or is it that they maybe are the only ones who she could corner to listen to her? I wonder just how many voters has she had to explain her little button to? Smarter than a fourth grade; yes, all of us out here are, Sue! Next, what in heaven's name does buying a new car have to do with the school issue? Anyone who has ever been able to acquire a new car is very much aware that when you drive a car off of the lot, this car can depreciate up to 40 percent of its value. This happens in just 5-10 feet or 1 to 5 seconds, how about it? So, where does a school come into play? This money the state of Ohio is supposedly offering us... ...remember no one ever gets anything for nothing. Tobacco use and its taxes are where this free money is coming from. Tobacco is a crop our government pushed for our southern states farmers to grow and cultivate now the government is blowing smoke at us; saying they are against the use of tobacco, it is harmful to us. Tit for tat that is our government. Free money. ..... someone paid for it.

Our country is known for our "freedom of speech" concept. How does Mrs. Rinto have the right to approach and complain to a New Garden businessman about his employees, stating their opinion against the school levy. Mrs. Rinto, you speak up for the levy every chance you get; even a union meeting at the school, so give others equal right to speak up against the levy. The business man reprimanded some of his employees because of complaining, a direct for of harassment on his part.

It seems to come down to two sides on the school issue! Those who think they need a new school and those who know they can't afford the new taxes that come with it. It is that simple!

KAREN WEAVER, Kensington

The fact is United voters can't afford the bond levy

To the editor: The United levy has been compared to my home and my car, neither of which I feel equates to the decision to be made. First, I would never let my home get in the deplorable condition they claim our school is in (yes I did tour/view video/read literature) and second, I would never buy a car with payments my children will have to make. The fact is we can't afford the levy. We all read the papers every day and see the news on television. The economy is still on a downward spiral. We are paying more for food and fuel. Unemployment is running in excess of 9 percent for over two years. The average worker is bringing home less and paying more for health care costs which also continue to skyrocket. Look around our district. How many properties are in foreclosure, or are in need of maintenance? How many of our families have lost their dream to the economic practice of spending money we don't have? Do you see new home construction or tangible economic business growth? The federal governments own economic forecast is hazy at best saying businesses are being very cautious holding back their spending. We all can be assured that taxes are going to increase across the board, we just don't know by how much. This is another bill we are asking unborn generations to pay. Property owners in this district have faced valuation adjustments which have resulted in unexpected higher taxes. Unrest in the Middle East will continue to play havoc with fuel prices which impact all facets of our lives. A recent article in the Salem News stated a business task force considered the cost of maintenance of the current facility, and the risk of consolidation as challenges facing the district without the 3.92-mill, 37-year bond issue which would generate $9.75 million dollars. Ironically committee chair Mr. Sean Logan in a letter to the editor praised past educational leaders for choosing to consolidate in 1951. Change was as scary then as it is now.

At the end of the day you still must be able to pay the bill. We all like to have shiny and new and there are always those who tell us we can have what we want todayand pay forward. I was raised you should not spend money you don't have. I don't want to spend my neighbor's money or the money of yet unborn. I encourage each and every voter to exercise their right and obligation and vote their conviction. For my vote on the United school levy, no is the way to go!

RHEA G. LANE III, Lisbon

Residents should not have to pay water fee

To the editor: Dear editor and residents of the city of Columbiana: Over the past few weeks a storm water fee being added to all residents' utility bills has been thrown around at council meetings. At the meeting council was approached about placing a storm water utility fee on all city residents and businesses. The fee has been discussed between $5 and $15 per month. It has been explained to council that this project will cost upward of $15 million. If a fee is placed on residents to pay for this at $10 per month with 2,800 homes paying the bill it would take 44 years to pay for this project. That equates to $120 per year times 44 years which is $5,280, dollars per residency to pay for a storm water system. That doesn't include inflation or interest. I truly feel sympathy for the residents who are dealing with these problems. Multiple times, I have suggested that we fix the individual streets by paying as we go. Last December, funds that had been set aside to do that were given to another department after the promise of those funds had already been made. It was a 3-3 vote with the mayor breaking the tie to remove the money from the storm water earmark. The residents of the areas in question should be comforted to know that we have already completed all of the mapping, preliminary engineering, selected a firm, and are now under way with receiving the quote to fix the first street. We are working to fix this without a fee. To commit to a project that will cost each home owner over $5,280 over the course of the project is not what I would consider a "fair share" as it has been suggested. Just last week the federal government announced the first increase to Social Security in several years. This fee (if imposed) could take up to 50 percent of that increase. This coupled with the expected raise in Medicare and Senior Citizens would be paying even more out of pocket than they are now. My plan to pay as you go would be to immediately change our city healthcare plan from a self- funded policy which costs over $1,000,000 per year, to a national carrier. Our immediate costs could be dropped by hundreds of thousands annually! This savings could potentially then pay for the annual cost of the project. Each year we could tackle the problem by paying with the savings. This way there is no reason to assess a fee. The fiscally responsible way to fix this situation is to set aside money that will immediately fix the streets with the problem. Adding more fees and taxing residents even higher than they already are in this economic client should not be a consideration.

BRYAN BLAKEMAN, Columbiana

Police for protection and not for counseling

To the editor: Don't look for zebras...sometimes a horse is just a horse. I read with interest the recent report in the Salem News regarding city council discussing the large number of nuisance calls to the police. Reading the Police Reports column is often a source of amusement. If your child won't do his homework or make his bed, that is your problem as a parent, not reason to call the police. If a young person wearing a hoodie is walking on your block, maybe they're heading home from an evening at Grandma's house, and are not a "suspicious person." If you hear a noise in your area, maybe a garbage can fell over. Raised voices could be a political argument, not domestic violence. And a strange call on your cell phone is probably a telemarketer. Seems Salem residents could use some common sense on these matters. We have a police department to protect us, not to be our personal counselors. And sometimes a horse is just a horse.

PAMELA MACRY, Salem

Cub Scouts offer thanks to city leadership

To the editor: The Cub Scouts of Salem Pack 2 would like to extend a personal "thank you" to Mayor Jerry Wolford, Council President Mickey Cope Weaver, and all members of Salem City Council for their generous hospitality in allowing our boys to participate in leading the Pledge of Allegiance prior to the Oct. 18 council meeting. Mayor Wolford was gracious enough to personally take time out of his meeting schedule to conduct a tour of city hall, providing additional history of the building and highlighting specific functions of the various departments comprising our municipal government. Each year, the scouts are involved in activities pertaining to citizenship, flag etiquette, and community service and how these areas of concentration correlate with local government. As a result, we encourage the boys to participate in local events and proudly represent the scouting organization through civic leadership development. While the scouts are actively engaged in academic studies that focus on the general structure and responsibilities involved with municipal, state, and federal government factions, the knowledge gained from seeing our local officials conducting their respective duties further enhances their overall learning experience. Again, thank you to all our local officials for affording Pack 2 the opportunity of participating in your recent meeting, and for the continued support of our local activities! It is individuals like yourselves who best represent collective civic leadership qualities that further serve as a building block for our "leaders of tomorrow."

GREGG WARNER, Pack 2 committee chairman, PAM LUTSCH, Pack 2 cubmaster

 
 

 

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