To the editor:
As I picked up the Sentinel's Thursday edition, I almost choked on my coffee as I started to read the front page article "Board considers increase in taxes" and particularly, the bold inset containing Mary Lou Sigler's comment, "For far too many years, this school board didn't raise taxes, and they left this district in a mess."
No, Mary Lou, for far too many years the School Board has been making far too many poor decisions that have created the mess we are in.
Let me take you back in time to the year 1972. Does it ring a bell? Of course, the '72 flood. It was a desperate time for Mifflin County residents. Destruction that cannot be imagined by today's youth. A major industry closed, other businesses had to downsize due to huge unemployment. The average taxpayer's wages had "flat-lined."
Do you know what else happened around that time? The school board and the teacher's union agreed to a three-year contract of 6 percent, 7 percent and 8 percent increases totaling 21 percent over 3 years! It is that type of poor decision making that brought about the pension fiasco we are facing over the coming years.
Fast forward to about 10 years ago when the school board was forced to put a referendum to the public doing away with the so called "nuisance taxes" as a means of supporting education, in lieu of raising the local income tax by .035 percent. I can see the school board's desperate appeal for the public to vote to keep the status quo. However, taxpayers had the common sense to realize the benefit of making the change. This vote by the taxpayers was a tremendous benefit by broadening the tax base and adding to the school district's financial stability.
And can we forget the school board's decision to build the new high school costing close to $120 million when you figure in the interest? A building with all the "bells and whistles" that looks more like the Taj Mahal in some back road Tennessee hamlet. Their reason for building it? The old high school (Chief Logan) was too antiquated to fix up. Which, by the way, is being fixed up.
And as one director stated, the new building will attract new business. Wow!
No, Mary Lou, it is stupid decisions by all the previous school boards that have gotten us into this mess. There is no one that will convince me that if we didn't have a huge new building to pay for, or if we didn't have excessive teacher contracts of the past, we just might be sitting in a pretty good financial situation right now.
It's the "Mary Lou" mentality all across America that has gotten us into this mess.