A New Perspective: Looking before leaping

High school graduation is nearing, and it was nice to see the new school graduating classes take such pride in their classmates, school, and faculty. Last week the Citizen featured Golden Gate High School, and this week it's Palmetto Ridge.

Photo with no caption

Photo by Jeff Hendrickson, Collier Citizen

It will be interesting to read the students' comments about their "old school" Gulf Coast High (which not that long ago was the "new school") and how these transplanted seniors view themselves and their new digs.

As new schools continue to be planned and added, there has been pressure on the school board to increase its school impact fees (fees paid on new construction). The premise is that growth should pay for growth and those new residents should bear the cost of new schools rather than those that are already living here.

The school board wanted to study the concept of raising its impact fees, but county commissioners recently beat them to the punch, voting to increase school taxes without a recommendation from the school board. Such tactics don't go far toward creating a good working relationship among government entities.

The cartoon above captures it pretty well.

Look before you leap? An interesting comment in this week's fire board story was a quote from a Golden Gate fire commissioner, trashing the media for not "jumping on board" their quest for a tax increase even though the board has yet to tell us how high they want to raise the tax cap, how much money is needed and what we are going to get out of it. It's one of those governmental "trust us, we know what we're doing" proposals that just won't fly at the ballot box.

Commissioners can't even decide how large a tax increase they want to pursue. Maybe I'm out of whack, and I'm sure the fire commissioners believe I am, but when it comes to spending my hard-earned money, I want to at least hear a sales pitch on the benefits of what I'm buying and how much it's going to cost before I make a buying decision.

The fire union's suggestion for an easy solution made the hairs on my neck stand up. Just go to some website, plug in some numbers and "presto-chango" — you've got a sales pitch.

I don't think we want to take our business advice from union members, considering the status of what auto and airline unions have done to those industries. The difference here is, taxpayers have an endless supply of money and can't be put out of business. The union's success in contract negotiation has significantly contributed to the district's manpower shortage. In 2003, a $400,000 ad valorem budget increase in salaries added eight new firefighters to the district. In 2004, another $400,000 increase to the salary column added one new employee because the rest went to pay raises.

When it comes to unions offering solutions for the good of any industry, I'd run the other direction. It is good to have their input, take the good points and then leave them out of the decision making process.

On a side note, Golden Gate's administrators should also be taken out of wage negotiations because they traditionally receive the same package. There is little incentive to be a tough negotiator with the union when your own pay is on the line.

© 2006 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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