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Your right to be heard – Our view: This is your chance

It’s easy to make an argument the Glencoe-Silver Lake School District needs to upgrade the parking lots at its junior-senior high and Lakeside Elementary schools.
And still, there are taxpayers who don’t want to see the district spend just over $1 million on a project they don’t believe is worthwhile, especially when they know the district will seek an update of its operating levy this fall. Monday evening, April 15, 6:30 p.m., is your chance to be heard.
The school board has a plan to sell tax-increment financing bonds to fund the parking lot improvement plan. The tax impact for the bonds will last 9.67 years, or just over 116 months. The impact for most homes in the GSL school district is less than $1.75 per month.
Before the school board can OK the sale of the bonds, it will hold a public hearing Monday evening, a chance for taxpayers to offer their opinions on the plan. In short, this is your last chance to express an opinion that might make a difference. Use it or lose it, folks.
There will be a presentation on how tax-increment financing works. That’s important information to understand since school district property is tax exempt. Your property, however, is not. The impact if the board OKs the sale of the bonds will be explained.
To its credit, the school has authored a solid plan to upgrade the parking lots at the junior-senior high school and Lakeside Elementary for consideration. The district hired an engineer and designed a plan intended to keep people safe as they walk from the school and field house to their vehicles. The plan is designed to properly deal with storm water runoff. At Lakeside, the plan will, if enacted, replace a gravel parking lot that needs annual maintenance with a paved lot needing far less maintenance each year. The school district also took advantage of proper timing to seek and receive a solid field of bids. The low bid is well below the engineer’s estimate.
It’s now up to the GSL School Board to make the decision to sell the bonds.
If you’re opposed to the proposed tax impact the sale of the bonds would have on your property, it’s time to say so. Kvetching about it at the coffee shop or on social media won’t help much. If you have a better plan, please offer it. Board members would love your input.
The timing of this issue could be better. It comes several months before the GSL School Board asks voters to support an operating levy plan that will also have a tax impact. Had voters in the GSL School District OK’d the operating levy proposal last fall, this would be a moot point.
As for the different requests, there are two issues at play here – how the district maintains its facilities and how it pays for the day-to-day operation of educating children. These are separate issues from the GSL School District’s perspective. Understandably, taxpayers might not see it that way.
Residents who want to express their thoughts have a right to be heard. If they opt not to exercise that right, they exercise a far less valuable right, second-guessing and complaining about an issue they did nothing to impact.
It’s up to you, folks.

-jm