Saturday, August 27, 2016

CCR 08-27-16 "Carrot" or Unbiased?

the   Controversial  Committee   Report
“We don’t raise sacred cows...we just butcher them.”

"Carrot" or Unbiased?  

   For all those who could be humming an old tune by Asleep At The Wheel, staff of the CCR wonders if enough of the silent majority will suddenly awaken and realize what the Tax Ratification Election, approved by the Irving ISD Board of Trustees, is all about.  And more importantly, what this September 10, 2016, election might have on future boards with regard to future property tax rates.

   It should be remembered, the actions of the current board of trustees are not binding on any future board.  And it appears the current board is moving full speed ahead to ensure the TRE passes.

   While the above brochure carries no disclaimer as to who wrote, designed, or printed the material, copies have been mysteriously appearing, like New Year’s Eve confetti in Times Square, on IISD campuses.  

   Of course, the first assumption would be the brochure was prepared by the IISD administration…with tacit approval of the board of trustees.

   While it is highly illegal and unethical for the IISD administration to utilize district resources (money, personnel and equipment) to "campaign" for the TRE election (or any election), the line, in this election, could be very murky on what might be construed as "campaigning" when compared to informing or announcing an upcoming IISD election.

   The "Penny Exchange" brochure seems to compare the upcoming election to "Let’s Make A Deal."  In the IISD game, note how when you pick Door #1 you receive $10M.  However, pick Door #2 and your prize is $0.  And that appears to be all the pertinent information (except where to vote) provided to those who receive the brochure.  Really?  It’s that simple?

   Basically, the IISD administration and board have obviously dangled the "carrot" over Door #1.  Nothing else to see or understand here.  Let’s all move along now and go vote.

   Realistically, a teacher, living in Irving, who receives one of the brochures in their In box/on their desk/in the break room immediately thinks, "If I vote FOR the $10M, then I get a raise!  Count me in."

   And this, dear reader, is the carrot the IISD utilizes…playing to a potential pliable voting base which would benefit most…without having them worry or understand the possible jeopardy of district finances or a higher effective tax rate the district could face in the future.

   When playing to a pliable base of potential supporters, the task is made even easier for the IISD relative to the timing of this election.

   The IISD board of trustees chose to hold (and pay for) a special election in September as opposed to having this measure on the November general election ballot when turnout is greater.  Paying for a special election in September also sets the stage for a possible repeat of what voters have seen in the past with other district elections.

   Voting places for the TRE election will be on most IISD campuses.  This adds a significant convenience to a pliable base of supporters.  Additionally, campus PTAs can make announcements and appeals just days before the actual election.  Or, PTAs can make announcements during the early voting period.  

   Formula:  Captive audience + pliable voting base = (draw your own ballot stuffing conclusions).
   In listening to the presentation by the IISDs Chief Number Cruncher, the level of confidence, as to how the finances for future boards might be met, seemed a tad discouraging.  In essence, the final consensus was to pass the TRE and then address any possible future roadblocks or financial hickeys which might pop up.

   But then, Dylan Westie, Executive editor/Part-time wordsmith and Social Media Troll for the CCR, with his better-than-human hearing, was disconcerted with what he heard uttered by the Chief Number Cruncher.  Advise staff of the CCR if the following sounds appealing to you for investing your future tax bucks:

"The TRE monies are not in the budget at this time."
"The budget will have to be revised if the TRE passes."
"I’m presenting a budget with what I know today."
"I cannot predict what future legislatures will do."
"I don’t know what the future is gonna’ bring."

   Already, the IISD board has approved a balanced budget for 2016-17 without the purported $10M in "free" State money.  And the likelihood of the budget being adjusted looms heavily.
   (The district has not approved the 2016-17 property tax rate at this time.) 

   The magical balancing act for the 2016-17 budget was performed by drawing over $9M from the district’s fund balance reserve.  The fund balance reserve will still meet any requirements for proper operations based on the revenues and expenses included in the new budget.

   While the IISD board of trustees contend the current tax rate of $1.445 will remain intact, will this be guaranteed if the TRE fails?  Should the TRE pass, what becomes of the $9M pumped into the 2016-17 budget from the fund balance reserve?

   The answer to those and other questions have been posed in previous CCR reports.  If you are just coming to a realization that a special called election is scheduled and requires additional information, visit and read: "Questions and Kool-Aid," and "No Sense for ‘Penny Exchange.’"

   As an added incentive to becoming involved or vocal regarding the proposed TRE election, take a gander at your 2016 Dallas County Property Appraisal Report.  Of particular note should be the percentage of taxes paid to the Irving ISD when compared to all the other taxing units.  This might cause one to reconsider rolling the dice on an issue which still requires considerable detail, explanation, and discussion.

   The only adage staff of the CCR could muster for voters to remember when considering how to vote on the TRE might be: "If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is."

………………………………………Mark Holbrook