Wyoming Public Schools

Under pressure from KCTA, Wyoming Public Schools moves millage election to November, re-evaluates tax request amount

Wyoming Public Schools Superintendent Thomas Reeder announced this week that he is asking the school district’s board to reconsider the tax increase request it approved last week. The board previously decided to ask voters to approve the exact same millage issue in August of this year that failed at the ballot earlier this month. The failed request would have raised $53 million for the school district. This sort of rapid-fire tax increase attack on voters is referred to by the Kent County Taxpayers Alliance as an abusive tax election.

Upon learning about this abusive tax election request, the Kent County Taxpayers Alliance announced that it would oppose the Wyoming Public Schools ballot issue in August. KCTA pointed out that the school district’s leadership claimed it wanted maximum participation of the community, yet the district defended the use of a May election in the first place. May elections traditionally are very low turnout. KCTA supports holding tax elections only in August or November, when most voters expect to be voting.

Now, under pressure from KCTA, the district’s leadership has abruptly changed course and is rethinking the decision it made just last week. The new millage request will be held in November of this year and the total amount is being re-evaluated so that it will appeal to more voters.

“We applaud the school district’s leadership for rethinking its abusive tax election request,” said Jeff Steinport, spokesperson for KCTA. “Taxpayers deserve better than to be beaten over the head with successive, identical tax elections. The school district is doing the right thing in evaluating its needs and coming back to the community, hat in hand, with a more modest proposal.”

KCTA to Oppose Wyoming Public Schools’ August Abusive Tax Election

The Kent County Taxpayers Alliance today announced that it will oppose Wyoming Public Schools’ abusive tax election in August of this year. The Wyoming Schools’ millage increase attempt on May 7th was defeated at the polls, yet the school district will attempt to get voters to pass the very same tax increase in August of this year.

Such rapid-fire elections, scheduled in an attempt to get voters to pass an issue that was already defeated, are a waste of taxpayer dollars and are referred to by KCTA as abusive elections.

“Wyoming Public Schools tried an abusive election in 2011, when their attempt at a tax increase failed in May of that year,” said Jeff Steinport, spokesperson for KCTA. “The district returned to voters in August of the same year, just three months later, and it was defeated even more resoundingly. (58-42% and then 63-37%)”

The Kent County Taxpayers Alliance successfully engaged in a get out the vote effort for the August 2011 election in Wyoming to inform voters of the school district’s abusive election tactics.

Wyoming Public Schools’ superintendent Thomas Reeder is quoted as saying that he wants true representation of the public at the next election. “This begs the question,” said Steinport, “If the district’s leadership wants maximum participation by the public, it should have chosen November, for its tax increase election in the first place.

“If the government school leaders were honest, they would recognize the folly of their argument. Godfrey Lee Schools only had 6% turnout, were those positive results invalid? And if the Wyoming millage question had passed, would the board have voted to re-ask the question with only 11% turnout? The decision by the school board to rerun the election shows a total disregard and almost contempt for those who took the time to vote. They are clearly not interested in the democratic process.”

KCTA also successfully fought an abusive tax election held by Grand Rapids Community College in August of 2007, just three months after the same tax issue was defeated in May of that year.

KCTA Successfully Fights Wasteful Tax Increase in Wyoming

The Kent County Taxpayers Alliance, a local non-partisan taxpayer advocacy organization, is celebrating another victory at the ballot box. Today Wyoming Public Schools again asked for a 0.5 mill property tax increase for a so-called sinking fund. This fund would have enabled Wyoming Public Schools to pay for building repairs and other capital expenses, without having to dip into operating funds.

The exact same issue was on the ballot in May of this year, and it was defeated by a vote of 58% to 42%. Wyoming Public School leaders believed that voters didn’t understand the tax issue in May and decided to try again only three months later. KCTA did not oppose the tax increase in May.

KCTA got involved in this election because such redundant and repetitive elections display a contempt for taxpayers on the part of elected leaders. This is the only issue that was on the ballot in Wyoming and this election cost taxpayers over $9,000 to administer.

“We have consistently fought to limit the number of tax issues that local governments can put on the ballot each year,” said Eric Larson, spokesman for KCTA. He continued, “Wyoming Public Schools wasted more taxpayer money, hoping that voters wouldn’t show up to oppose the tax increase a second time because this was the only question on the ballot.”

The result today was 63% voting “no,” a higher percentage than in May. KCTA reached out to over 2,000 voters in Wyoming to remind them to vote “no” and send a message that these sorts of wasteful elections need to stop.