Things are starting to look a bit similar to the 1970s — at least as far as a successful bond vote to benefit Hays USD 489.
Nearly four decades ago, voters finally decided smaller was better, less money has better, that things would be sufficient because others had to do with less and they turned out fine.
So here were are again, the second try for USD 489 to pass a proposed $78.5 million bond after a $94 million plan failed at the polls in the past. The naysayers, and there are plenty vocal ones, say it’s too expensive and the interest is too high — nearly matching the bond amount itself.
They say it’s too long of a time frame to finance the bond, and there are a lot of wants and not necessarily needs.
The Vision Team worked hard to trim down this project from the last bond proposal that failed handily. It wasn’t the right plan and the right amount, many people said. When you’re dealing with money and taxpayers’ hard-earned wages, nothing is easy to loosen the grasp on.
We have some concerns about this second proposal — the fact two new elementary schools would be constructed and the board’s lack of willingness to tweak the plan presented by the Vision Team. We believe the final proposal should come after significant discussion by BOE members, not merely forwarding on a proposal from a committee.
But that is neither here nor there. Instead, what voters are faced with at Tuesday’s general election is the fact their taxes will rise if the bond vote passes. Even those who don’t own but rent could see their monthly bills increase if landlords pass on that added amount they have to pay — which for some, is very likely to happen.
But when is the “perfect” plan going to be floated, one that makes everyone happy and keeps every tax the same? It’s never going to happen. It’s a fact of life, and one some will never want to realize.
We are a growing community, perhaps growing older than younger. But we look to the future where there are young families looking to move to our city, and we are showcasing crumbling structures to them.
We look to the future of trying to attract industry to our city, only to offer up a meeting place for them — 12th Street Auditorium and the massive cracks in the walls.
We completely understand the proposal is for a 30-year bond. It’s a long time, similar to most mortgages for homeowners.
We understand it’s a lot of money, but there’s a reason it’s going to take a lot of money. Many of the facilities have been neglected, not by this administration or board but by others. So is the proper thing to do to punish this group by continuing to live by what previous superintendents and boards did?
We supported the last bond proposal that would have put the district in fine position for the next several decades. This one has less of a burden on taxpayers, but also offers less for the districts’ future and trimmed back projects at the high school and middle school.
Will we continue to trim back proposals that lead to eventually only fixing maintenance issues instead of preparing us for decades in the future? Are we happy with what was sufficient years ago instead of planning for the future?
Now, once again, it is in the voters’ hands.
We are apt to look to our future instead of our past for the answer. Generations in the future will thank us for taking the difficult step forward Tuesday when their time comes to vote for the next big bond decades later to benefit and prepare their next generations.
It’s not about the present, but the future — for our children, our families, our city.
The investment made sense on the last proposal, and it does this time as well.
Editorial by Nick Schwien