District hasn’t justified tax hike

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 8, 2010

Natchez-Adams School District officials will meet today to decide on whether or not to impose a tax increase on county property owners.

We hope they’ll reconsider their plans, or at least, stop and explain more precisely why it’s absolutely needed.

From our perspective, something just doesn’t add up.

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Trying to decipher the school district’s $45 million budget is complicated for the common taxpayer. Even district officials seem to struggle to explain the process to laymen.

From documents provided at last week’s public hearing on the tax increase, the school district’s plans for the 2010-2011 budget include:

Collecting $3 million more in revenue than planned in the 2009-2010 budget. In its various forms — local, state, federal — almost all of that is derived from tax dollars. Less than $1 million comes from resources — timber, oil, etc., sold from public lands.

Spending approximately $4.1 million more in 2010-2011 than called for in the 2009-2010 budget.

Continuing deficit spending practices — letting expenses grow higher than funds expected to be collected — requiring the district’s carryover “piggy bank” balance to be robbed again.

The total revenue plan calls for the district to have $43.57 million to spend this year, compared to the plan of $40.56 million last year.

And despite state reimbursement reductions, the district is planning on spending more than $4 million more than last year’s budget. That’s more than a 9 percent increase in spending.

At a time when taxpayers are already facing high unemployment and likelihood of increased state and federal taxes ahead, better stewardship — or at least better salesmanship — would help Adams County taxpayers understand the bloated budget’s continued expansion.

Tax proponents say, “It’s only a few pennies a day more.” But for some residents, a few pennies mean a lot.