April 3rd, 2012 is shaping up to be an expensive day for people in Oshkosh. That is the spring general election day--with a ballot that could feature as many as three tax-increasing referenda.
First up is the Oshkosh School District looking for 13-million dollars for a new Oaklawn School. The School Board will decide what--if any-chance they will have to win that one tomorrow night. If they go with the idea of moving Oaklawn to a new site along County Highway A--you can expect the same result as the referendum to build new along Ryf Road a few years back (based on conversations with Oaklawn parents who say even they wouldn't support that idea). If they opt for the recommendation going before them tomorrow night from a parents group--rebuild on the same site--they will have a fighting chance. Of course, when has the Oshkosh School Board ever thought that anyone but itself has any good ideas?
Up next will be the Fox Valley Technical College with a referendum totalling up to 85-million dollars. Oshkosh voters won't have total control on this one--as the FVTC district covers the better part of five counties. This will actually be a refreshing change of public accountability for the Tech School System--as its boardmembers are not elected--even though they have the authority to raise our property taxes. I guess we should thank them for at least asking this time around.
And now Common Councilmember Bob Poeschl--sensing that he has ZERO chance of getting his Wheel Tax proposal approved by the council--wants to put that on the spring ballot as well. I'll be calling this measure the "Penalty For Not Riding the Bus" referendum--since revenues won't go to fund street repairs like in other cities--but rather Oshkosh Transit. If so many of us weren't being so eco-unfriendly and driving our own cars everywhere we go--we wouldn't need this wheel tax.
So all told, the total of new taxes being proposed for the April 3rd ballot is 98-point-five million dollars. It kind of reminds me of being back in high school--as my teachers in Honors Economics, Honors English and Advanced Placement Calculus all handed out major homework assignments on the same day--unaware of the load the others were also placing on us.
It will be interesting to see what voters in Oshkosh--who have seen stagnant income growth and decreased property values--will decide to do. For some reason, I don't think they will be rushing to the polls that Tuesday to add 99-million dollars to their tax burdens. Call it "Democracy In Action".
Oh, I almost forgot. If April 3rd is also the date of the Gubernatorial Recall election--you can add another two billion dollars in new taxes to that total above. Still a drop in the bucket compared to the TRILLIONS in tax hikes that will be at stake in November.