Board should focus on efficiency, not new revenues
June 01, 2013 10:58 PM | 1338 views | 14 14 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
DEAR EDITOR:

I am writing in response to the MDJ comments from readers with suggestions on how to resolve the Cobb County School District budget deficit. One writer was a “recovering real estate attorney” and is now an investment sales broker in real estate. He attempts to make the case that Cobb should “make older Cobb residents pay school taxes.”

First, we should remind that person and other proponents of “make older Cobb citizens pay school taxes” that demanding taxes from Cobb’s senior citizens on a fixed income would not solve the Cobb County School District deficit of approximately $82 million. The numbers are approximate because the Board of Education quoted varying amounts of the deficit in multiple articles.

That might be part of the problem. If they do not know the exact size of the deficit, how can they get that deficit under control?

We will use the lower $82 million deficit for this example. According to the 2010 census, Cobb has, rounded down, a population of 700,000 people. Of that population, approximately 9 percent are seniors over age 62, or 63,000 people.

The average school tax is approximately $227 per year. If that is the case, making senior citizens pay school taxes would raise an additional $14 million. That still leaves a $68 million deficit. Some people on a limited fixed income would have to pay the school tax out of their shrinking savings while they have no children in school.

Second, take the time to look at all the so-called temporary, now seemingly permanent, Cobb County education SPLOST tax lists. The majority of the list for every SPLOST has been real estate development. One of the “tax the seniors” proponents admitted that he earns his living in real estate. Is there any connection to him asking citizens to pay more taxes to go toward his field of real estate and special interest projects that line his (and others) pockets? I wonder.

In conclusion, the way to solve the deficit problem in Cobb County is not to demand more taxes from seniors on fixed incomes, but, rather, to be more efficient with the money Cobb County already has.

Mrs. Jan Barton

Marietta

Comments
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Dr. Teresa Plenge
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June 06, 2013
To Anonymous. You are so funny!!! The people spoke and booted the "brilliant (by minority opinion) Allison out of office after one term. I served 3 terms and was never defeated. You are one of the minority who actually liked Allison. According to the election results you are in a VAST minority.

To Carl: There is a "pecking order" in East Cobb Schools too. If you do not believe this, just ask the kids. They know (my son went to the Wheeler magnate program you know) Sometimes it is not the reputation of the school that is the deciding factor, but how successful the good ole boy/girl system wants a certain principal to be or whether they have friends in the central office or not. No matter what the reasons, I agree with you that it should not happen. When a principal says "call your board member" it is usually because he/she is frustrated with road blocks too and knows you, the citizen can get more done than he/she can. This goes for the influence with the legislators too.
Recall it
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June 06, 2013
TP was pretty well disliked when she decided not to run again.

Reading published opinions of the time, one gets the sense that ABs predecessor was felt to be somewhat moronic by a good chunk of the electorate. Perhaps she saw the writing on the wall?

Too bad TP is not on the board now. Would be entertaining to see her call her board mates morons on TV.

To Dr. Plenge
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June 06, 2013
It seems you have so much time on your hands that you want to be a wheelchair quarterback. Do yourself a favor - be a gracious EX-BOARD MEMBER, (notice the emphasis on EX, Dr. Plenge?) Sit back, enjoy your retirement and keep your bitter, trap shut. If you start slinging arrows at your current board member and others, it is going to force some of us to dredge up your many faux paus as a worthless board member. You wouldn't want that, would you dearie? Of course not.

Happy Retirement!
anonymous
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June 07, 2013
No, they tell you to call the Board member because they did not do their job and want to blame someone else!
Carl Wilson
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June 04, 2013
Yes there needs to be more efficiency, and as a parent of graduates I am appalled that when school starts and students do not have books or desks to sit in everyone gets up in arms and points at everyone except the person who gets paid to start the school year off right- the Principal. They get paid some decent money to make decisions and manage a school staff and I recall a few years where we were told by our schools Principal to call our Board Members to get things rolling and they had no control. If we have Principals at the helm of the schools that can not manage simple planning tasks, how do you expect them to teach our children? So parents, if school starts and you find out that your student does not have a book for a class they registered for last spring or has a desk to sit in, call out the Principal, not some support department. Get the paper to find out why that Principal did not make sure his or her school was ready to lead children.The school Board needs to lay that on the line this summer. If you Principals with six figure salaries can not hire and manage people to run the business, we do not need you here.
Dr. Teresa Plenge
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June 05, 2013
The Principals are not to blame!!! A game of favorites goes on at the central office. The principals that have good ole boy/girl friends at central office get priority when resources are short.
Carl Wilson
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June 05, 2013
I do not believe that Dr. Plenge. This was at an East Cobb school when I saw it first hand. Hold Principals accountable for being sure the school is ready before teachers and students arrive. That should be part of their job descriptions
Dr. Teresa Plenge
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June 04, 2013
Ms. Barton, why are you bothering the School Board about not changing the Senior Tax Exemption? You know fully well that the exemption was approved by our legislators and they are the only ones who can change it. While you have their attention about Common Core ask them why they think it is OK to send $65 million of YOUR tax dollars to Gwinnett County. Gwinnett is not having to do with less. They spend 3 times the amount per student than Cobb does because you happily allow YOUR legislators to get away with this waste of your money. You just keep saying "be more efficient Cobb." Why can't Gwinnett be more efficient so Cobb does not have to cut to the bare bones? In 5-10 years when property values in Cobb, even for those who do not have school aged children, fall so far below those of Gwinnett because of school funding and quality of education issues you'll be the first to whine about that too. It is impossible for Cobb to be more efficient AND provided for federal and state mandated line items in the budget. WHY ARE YOU OK WITH $65 MILLION OF YOUR TAX DOLLARS GOING TO GWINNETT????? I REALLY WANT TO KNOW WHAT YOU ARE THINKING AND WHY THERE HAS NOT BEEN A TAX PAYERS REVOLT OVER THIS ISSUE? I just do not get it. Would someone please explain why the Cobb tax payers are so OK with this?
anonymous
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June 04, 2013
For once I agree w TP
Dr. Teresa Plenge
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June 05, 2013
To anonymous, Thank you! Tell others.
Dr. Teresa Plenge
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June 05, 2013
Anonymous, in case you didn't read my comment on the other letter regarding the school finances I will repeat it here. No, I am not running for re-election. I am disabled, in a wheelchair, and am very limited in what I am able to do physically. However, I still care about the county I live in.

We do need to get that idiot Tim Stultz out of office. He is a moron and has no business as an elected official. Unfortunately, he is now MY Board Member. GAG!!
anonymous
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June 05, 2013
It was nice when Allison Bartlett came in to replace the moron before her.
@ Jan Barton
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June 02, 2013
Did you skip math lessons altogether during your school years? Unfortunately, many people will read and believe the nonsense you've produced. You're personal correction is warranted.

For the "average school tax" to be approximately $227, that would mean that the "average" taxable assessed value of a home in Cobb County would be $12,011. The simple calculation is to take your $227 school tax and divide it by the school tax rate of 0.0189 (i.e. 18.9 mills).

While I'm not in favor of eliminating the senior exemption, you would do the readers here a much better service to get your facts straight.

Some suggest a median home value of roughly $215,000 in Cobb County. Using that figure, the school property tax on a median valued home in Cobb County after homestead exemption would be about $1,436.

Elimination of the senior exemption would go a lot further than the $14 million you cite.

Fear not... it won't change.

Funny Stuff !
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June 03, 2013
It seems Ms.Barton also believes 100% of those seniors own and live in households by themselves since she applied her $227 to all of her estimated 63,000 senior residents to come up with he $14 million in tax revenue.

Her letter is particularly amusing since Ms. Barton was one of the outspoken critics of the math curriculum materials to be adopted by the school district.
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