I am writing in response to Hamilton Post editor Rob Anthes’ column about the pending school referendum, entitled “Stop playing roulette with our children’s safety,” featured in the January 2017 edition of the Hamilton Post.
Anthes wrote, “All this could be fixed, Ficarra said, for an extra $51 per year for the average Hamilton taxpayer. By the end of our conversation, I was ready to whip out my wallet and give him $51.”
How lovely you are in a personal financial position to whip out your wallet and do so. There is no “average” Hamilton taxpayer. There are wealthy. There are poor. There are some in between.
I speak for those of us in labor and service jobs who are dedicated to living within our means and do what we need to do to pay our rent, the heating bill this time of year, clothes, food and other necessities. Taxes should be pro-rated.
Yes, our structures fall apart, schools among them. There is a photo journey book out now called “Abandoned America: The Age of Consequences” documenting our decaying buildings across America, left for the exploration of future Archaeologists. The Hamilton library has an excellent documentary called “Maxed Out.” I suggest you watch it before assuming how easy it is for everyone to pay for things. What you feel is a minimal amount someone else needs to put on a credit card.
Our schools teach children many fine things. I do wonder if the useful skill of living in one’s means is among them.
— Karen Krainski
Hamilton Post Senior Community Editor Rob Anthes responds:
Karen, many Hamilton residents feel the way you do, and the government and school district have responded to that. Hamilton has the third lowest per pupil spending, third lowest school tax rate and second lowest average tax bill in the county. But they can only be so thrifty.
The condition of Hamilton’s school buildings is the worst of any district I’ve visited. These aren’t abandoned buildings; they are active structures, full of teachers, students, parents and community members nearly every day. And we’re putting their safety at risk.
By living here, we have invested in this community. Our home values depend on the strength and well-being of the school district. That $51—or whatever it turns out to be in your case—is a maintenance cost to ensure the biggest investment of a lifetime retains its value.
There is never a good time for this kind of expense, and it is never easy to pay more taxes when you’re concerned with just making ends meet. But the school district is not being irresponsible here. It wants to fix leaky roofs and faulty walls. By choosing this moment to hold the line on spending means allowing further deterioration of our schools, costly emergency repairs and possibly even legal fees, should someone get hurt due to the neglect.
Normally, I’d agree we need more fiscal responsibility and prudence from elected bodies universally. But, in this case, we’re all going to pay one way or the other. Might as well do it the right—and most cost-effective—way.