Positive Attitude

Daco’s got a really good post at Manland today.  Although I started this day still exhausted from last week’s travel, his excitement is contagious and palpable.

That’s one of the things I love about Oak Ridge: a diverse group of people can pretty quickly find one another and rally around a good idea, working together to make something positive happen.  It happened three years ago with the new high school, and there are many other examples throughout our history.

Aside from the obvious result of accomplishing something that makes the community better, there are tangential benefits as well — like becoming friends with people that we might not have otherwise gotten to know.

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The bond referendum related to the Crestpointe project must pass, as the decline in our city’s sales tax revenue has reached a critical point.  We are more reliant on property taxes than any other city in the region, and it is this decline that was behind the funding shortfall in the schools’ budget last year.

It has not improved over the last year.  As noted in today’s Oak Ridger, the school budget presentation gets underway on Thursday.  I can tell you now that it will not be pleasant, and that many of last year’s issues will resurface.

Sales tax revenue is vitally important to education, because by statute, half of all local option sales taxes go to education (in our case, shared with all school systems in the county, since they superseded our tax rate last year).  It’s not money we have to beg City Council for, and if the sales tax revenue is healthy and growing, it results in less begging from Council.

That would make everybody happier.  I don’t like begging, and I know a number of Council members who don’t like being the bad guy, saying no.

Supporting passage of the referendum (the language on the ballot will be “Yes” or “No,”  with “Yes” approving the bond issue to move forward with Crestpointe) will not solve the budget problem this year or even next, but it will create a method for pushing us back in the right direction.

At the moment, we’ve gone far enough in the wrong direction that it’s going to be somewhat painful for everyone involved.

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