It seems to me evident that the schools concurred with that expectation when they paid over to the city, for the retirement of the high school debt, all the funds which accrued to them from the last .5% sales tax both before and after the county’s action. For the schools to suddenly in 2011-2012 decide that, oops, they really shouldn’t be paying for the debt is unethical and childish. In what universe do people of honor decide that they don’t have to pay for what they bought? (I forgot. People who went to college on loans from the rest of us are deciding that very thing right and left.)
Now we find ourselves in a bind. The owner of the buildings (we citizens of Oak Ridge) cannot and would not ever evict this tenant for failure to meet their obligations. Our children are a precious and wonderful treasure on whom our own quality of life depends as much as their own. I believe the only fair and reasonable arbiters of the .5% commitment are the citizens of the city of Oak Ridge. I believe that we must enact a referendum asking the citizens what their expectations are.
Ms. Agle, a tireless and dedicated servant of the schools, has remarked on the reduced income from Oak Ridge sales tax. It seems to me that the schools are lucky that the county decided to apply the .5% universally. The bottom line is that the schools have received a greater amount with which to make their contribution to the debt payment than they would have had the .5% applied only to Oak Ridge. The citizens and the city council realize full well that the schools have had to tighten their belts. The city has had to tighten its belt. The citizens, to the dismay of many, are faced with belt tightening on behalf of the city, in addition to all the other ways in which their income has failed to keep up with the cost of essential goods.
We do not need to argue between the serving bodies nor do any of us want to deposit this in the lap of lawyers and judges. Let’s either agree to continue to dedicate all income from the last .5% sales tax, city and schools, to the retirement of the high school construction debt. Or, let’s take it back to the people.