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Building schools a taxing proposition

July 26, 2005|by TIM ROWLAND

Commentary

I saw the headline that said "Roberts nominated to Supreme Court," and at first I thought it was Oral Roberts, and I thought "Oh boy, here we go." Then I thought it was Nora Roberts, which would have been cool because I think she could have come up with a steamy plot twist between Ginsburg and Stevens.

Fortunately though, this Roberts turned out to be a middle-aged, short-haired white guy like me, which is most excellent because he will be able to understand my problems, most notably which club to use when you're lying 5 and are still 175 yards from the green.

Outside of that, I really don't have too many issues for which I need to go in front of the Supreme Court. Although I might if all these development taxes keep going up. Excise tax. Adequate Facilities tax. You know, all those taxes they give weird names to just to throw you off the scent.

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I only recently learned that there really is such a thing as an "Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance." All this time I thought it was just one of those wacky names or catchphrases designed to give you a good laugh, like "Captain Kangaroo" or "Baltimore Public Schools."

Of course, just because I know it exists doesn't mean I know what it does - outside of making houses cost more. Supposedly it will help us improve schools and roads, although I can't help but notice we don't seem to be getting a lot of improvements in those areas.

Nothing against portable classrooms. I think they look sort of cool in those neat little rows all around the mother ship, like the barracks in "Gomer Pyle USMC." But when I hear the words "portable classrooms," I always get the image of a classroom that might at any time up and move while the students are still in it.

Sure saves wear and tear on the buses on field trip day. Just hitch up a Mack truck and tow the science class to the Air and Space Museum.

And I don't know where the money that's supposed to be adequately facilitating the roads is ending up. Unless it's on the county's estimated 384th attempt to repair the Broadfording Bridge.

No, it doesn't seem to me as if we're getting a lot of bang for the buck considering all the development taxes that have been thrust upon us. Where are the new schools? Where are the new roads?

Now the easy answer is that these taxes were just passed last week and we haven't started collecting them yet. But frankly, I am fed up with all these "easy" and "convenient" government answers that are more accurate than they are funny. Besides, somebody has to be a watchdog to ensure that all this new money for roads and schools doesn't disappear when the commissioners decide we need to build another runway, this one done in a saddle-colored faux finish with complementary cobalt landing lights.

Speaking of APFO Brothers, you gotta love the developer in Jefferson County, W.Va., who recently concluded a portion of his new houses shouldn't have to pay for any school improvement taxes, since it was to be a community housing senior citizens.

Nice try.

Really, I mean nice try. I wish I could get out of paying for schools on the grounds that I have no natural children. It's not my fault you selfish, offspring-bearing people need schools. Why should I have to pay? I mean, I'm not cheap - I don't mind springing for a box of chalk every now and again, but a whole building? Please.

Of course, government regulations don't require you to start complaining about your taxes until you hit the age of 58, so this isn't a line of reasoning I have spent much time pursuing. But maybe I should.

I'm afraid my input wouldn't be appreciated around the ole checkerboard, however, since I believe you should only get out of the school tax if you don't have any children OR grandchildren. If you have grandkids in school, I'm sorry, but you, technically, still are a root of the problem.

It's like all those $94 million government studies that conclude that if your parents never had any children, you never will have any children either. It's the same idea. If you "got the ball rolling," you have a long-term liability, in my opinion.

Although maybe we will one day have to take the case to Judge Roberts to figure it out for sure.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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