I proposed the two questions mentioned in Mike Buffington's editorial this week in a letter to you on July 7th but I think he missed the main point of those questions.
The main point was why are we spending more than Jefferson City yet Jefferson City is the 3rd best school district in the state and Jackson County isn’t even in the top 100?
According to the Governor's Office of Student Achievement, Jefferson schools receive As and Bs while Jackson County schools receive Bs, Cs, and Ds. There is a disparity in cost per pupil and the results achieved. So I asked in that letter why Jackson County can’t learn to do more with less like Jefferson City has.
Buffington's statistics on where the income comes from in the 3 school districts fits perfectly into the other argument that I made in that letter regarding all the tax exemptions our county leaders give businesses like SK. When we stop telling businesses they don’t have to pay property tax for 20 years, those businesses can pick up the some of the tab like they are doing in Jefferson and Commerce.
But he asked a question at the end of your editorial I would like to try to answer.
Democrats hate tax breaks. They think everyone has an endless supply of money to give to governments, who think they can endlessly spend money. That is not the case. I disagree with the premise that giving a tax break to senior citizens would also mean you have to give one to the childless 30-something couple and businesses.
This isn’t about whether you have children or not. This is about whether you have income or not. A senior citizen is most likely living off one or a combination of a pension, a meager social security check, and potentially any savings they may have been able to put together during their working years.
An article I recently read on Yahoo says that 1 in 4 senior citizens do not have any retirement savings and 13% of 60 and older have none. Many Americans live paycheck to paycheck and can’t afford to put back 10-20% of their income each month to plan for retirement. And since they are not working anymore no one is going to call them and ask them if they want overtime this week, they aren’t getting that quarterly sales bonus, and the government surely isn’t giving them a big raise on their social security check.
So, they truly do have a “fixed” income as opposed to the 30 something that can get all the above-mentioned extra sources of income and can even hit the job search engines in pursuit of a higher salary. Not to mention the businesses making tons of money and not being charged property taxes. That pension that the teacher, nurse, or deputy sheriff is getting is not putting them in the wealthy elite class and the property taxes in Jackson County are going to take a big bite out of it. For example, I will retire after 28 years in the military. At the current trend of increasing property taxes, within 3 years one entire month of my pension will need to be set aside just to pay the tax. By the time I’m 65, it could be two months. Right now that is sustainable because I can still work. But when I retire and have that “fixed” income, it will be a burden.
Our seniors deserve to be taken care of in their latter years. They spent decades paying the school tax. Those of us who can still work can do that for them. After all, Hall Co, Gwinnett Co, Walton Co, Oconee Co, Cobb Co, Douglas Co, Paulding Co and Forsyth Co all offer full exemptions at various ages. If they can figure out how to do it, we can too.
(Editor's clarification: SK Battery is in the City of Commerce and is making payments in lieu of taxes under a deal with the city and county governments. The Jefferson city government also grants tax breaks to some new businesses. Local school systems don't have any legal authority over those deals.)