On June 11th, this website published the news that Jackson County Parks are seeking a property tax increase.  To read about it, please click here. 

In this Viewpoint, Bill Leutz weighs in on the this proposal that voters will be decide upon in August 7th election:

Once again County Commissioners are asking for more money. As usual the window dressing of the proposal looks good, but the reality is another story. At Clark Lake, one of their proposals is to have a kayak and canoe rental. Perhaps someone should tell them we already have one of those on the lake

Looking at the financials, based upon information I was able to find in the package provided at a recent Clark Lake meeting with Parks personnel, as well as budget information available online, this proposal has problems. Online sources present a Parks Commission Budget for 2017-2018, with an expected income of $784,700, expenditures of $42,200, and requested capital improvements of $302,000. This creates questions numbers 1 & 2. What happens to the remaining 56% of the 2018 budgetary revenue? If we have over $400,000 of unspent revenue in 2018, why do we need an extra millage?

The actual proposal is projected to raise $2,180,000 per year for the Parks Commission. Annual operating expenditures are forecast at $1,600,000, with capital improvements of $1,000,000 per year. Actual full term capital costs are expected to be $12,300,000 or $2,300,00 more than the sum of the annual estimates, perhaps accounting for inflation or contingencies. Thus the millage proposal results in a future plan that requires a three-fold increase in capital expenditure and a thirty-seven fold increase in operating expenses over that actually experienced in recent years.  Even with the larger proposed capital costs, the plan will also result in a net profit for the Commission of about $1,800,000 over the 2018-2028 year period.

Where do those profits go? Are they siphoned off to favorite causes in other sectors of the County Budget as in past millage proposals? Does someone ‘invest’ it for the people?  – if so, on whose authority, based on what parameters? Do we really want County Park Commissioners dabbling in the investment business with our money? – or taking customers away from local businesses?

No one questions that the county parks need serious care, but I think we send this proposal back to the planners and ask them to do their homework. While they’re at it, how about giving us a plan that works with the local residents, rather than against them.

I say vote NO on August 7th. What do others think?

Bill Leutz
Clark Lake