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Are we broke?

By Tim Pelphrey
Sports Editor

Breaking down proposed tax rate ~

Property Value: $100,000.00
100,000.00/100 =1000
Property Tax: $1000 x $.56 =$560.00
School tax = $560.00

A new tax rate increase proposal, that all five Johnson County School Board members passed last week, has caused some stir amongst the natives.
New Superintendent Tom Salyer asked the board to approve a 53% tax increase during the last meeting and, as usual at a Johnson County School Board meeting, the Super got what he asked for.
Salyer’s reason for the hike was blah, blah blah blah blah, which is all I read, because increases of taxes, at such rates, only come when the school district is in dire need of money.
Salyer said something to the effect that he wanted the district to stay ahead of the game when it comes to student’s classroom needs, if I’m not mistaken. These aren’t dire enough needs to raise the taxes at the rate he has proposed, as the classroom conditions are well better than par at Johnson Central and its feeder schools.
In other words, there are school districts across the nation that would be tickled pink to have the equipment and facilities that the district possesses.
Now, if this new Super was a younger man who wanted to push his power around, maybe not a Johnson Central graduate, and out for glory, I could buy the reason given.
But this is Tom Salyer. One of the most respected men and educators in the system. I do not believe that he would raise taxes on anybody unless it was absolutely necessary.
So, are we broke? And if so, HOW? And who is to blame? Those are questions that need to be answered by this school board.
Salyer is sitting in a chair that he was meant to sit in. There is no doubt in my mind about that as a Johnson Central graduate of 1990. I’ve witnessed his humble and deserving rise to where he is from the classroom and coach at Flat Gap, to a principalship, the board office and now to the man that has to make the tough decisions.
The school year is less than a quarter of the way through and he has to raise taxes. Imagine how long and hard he thought before he had to present that to the people. If he thinks it has to be done it probably needs to be.
He just stepped into the job, and, more than likely, into a system that has been spent out.
We cannot blame him if this is the case. And we should be glad we have a man with the guts and fortitude to ask the people for help. Just don’t pee down our backs and tell us its’ raining again. Be honest, regardless of where the blame lies.
But if this is not the case and every board member voted yea again, then this is ludicrous. It would be time to talk about how much salaries have increased and if there have been any high paying positions created by this board over the past few years.
It’s time to tighten the belt and cut spending and it may be time for some of the board members who have not been vocal for the people, to resign immediately.
The board is elected to make decisions for the tax payers. This board has agreed to every dime that has been spent. The fault lies with them and the former superintendent if this school system is out of money.
This is subject to voter referendum as it is over a 4%, which means that it can be petitioned and put on a ballot for the people to decide.

Darts and Laurels

A laurel to remembering the 9/11 tragedy -- lives lost should never be forgotten.

A dart to more flash flooding -- lightning may not strike twice in the same place, but floods do!

A laurel to cooler temps that make football season so much fun! Time to tailgate!

A dart to waiting to hear if FEMA help is coming to those affected by recent flooding -- many are in need now.

A laurel to Apple Day preparations -- from pageants to pies, it’s going to be great!

Guest Editorial

Always Remember
The News-Enterprise

It has been 13 years since our nation awakened to a morning of unanticipated horror and disbelief.
On that morning of Sept.11, 2001, as our nation busied itself with the routine of a new work and school day, evil violently ripped into our lives. Although we didn’t fully realize it in the shock of the moment, that day forever marked a historic pivot point for our nation.
Indeed, it changed the world as well.
Since that day, our nation and our allies have been engaged in a global fight against terror. At times, the fight has seemed to be a more fully engaged endeavor than at others. But the fight has been ongoing nonetheless.
Today is another important day to pause and remember those 2,977 innocent victims whose lives were tragically lost in New York’s Twin Towers, at the Pentagon, and on a far away Pennsylvania field on Sept. 11, 2001. It’s also a day to honor thousands more who have given life and limb in the enduring fight against terror.
None will understand the grief more than those who have lost a love one in this ongoing war. But our nation joins these families in their mourning and remembrance today.
Today is also a day to ask a difficult but necessary question: Is our nation and its interests safer today than we were the morning following 9/11?
According to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, almost half of Americans say our nation is less safe today than at any point since 9/11 at 47 percent. This same time last year that sentiment was voiced by only 28 percent of survey respondents.
A new, brutal and far more militaristic enemy has emerged from the ashes of the war on terror: ISIS – the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
Controlling a territory about the size of the state of Maryland, this new terrorist organization of ultra-extreme Sunnis seek to stamp out Shiite rule in Iraq and Iran. Without question, ISIS also wants to see our nation and way of life crumble.
Videos gone viral online of ISIS militants beheading American journalists have been sickening, harkening back the memories of the bodies of lifeless American servicemen hanging from bridges and being drug through dusty streets. ISIS promises of pending attacks on our home front have brought a new fear of what might come.
At the time of this writing, President Obama continues to refer to this organization as ISIL – the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – as if not mentioning Syria somehow lessens that component of the threat. And while Congressional leaders bicker about what course of action can and should be taken to thwart this new enemy, members of the 9/11 Commission have become ever more critical that Congress failed to take the ISIS threat seriously.
On this 9/11, it is hard to say our nation and world is a safer place today. Certainly, terror appears to be alive and well. And its new name is ISIS.

Darts and Laurels

A laurel to the Johnson County Extension Office’s “Heritage Days” — lots to learn, lots to remember!

A dart to more weekend flash flooding!

A laurel to the hiring of new tourism director — good luck, Ms. Campbell!

A dart to illnesses that inevitably come with a new school year — ain’t no one got time!

A laurel to “Kentucky Storytelling Week” — Sept. 8 thru 14. Gather the kids around and spin a tale!

Guest Editorial

More restrictions on payday lending
The Courier-Journal

The payday loan industry has flourished virtually unchecked in Kentucky for far too long, luring customers — often impoverished or desperate — with quick cash at a very high cost.
Now that’s changing because of increased scrutiny from state and federal officials, The Courier-Journal’s Jere Downs reported recently.
The state is getting more aggressive at enforcing existing laws that limit the amount people can borrow through the short-term, high-cost loans. And the new federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is stepping up enforcement of national payday chains, many of which operate in Kentucky, over unfair consumer practices.
But that’s not enough in Kentucky where the payday industry is still allowed to charge exorbitant fees that amount to annual interest rates of 400 percent, a practice critics have called usurious and tantamount to “legalized loan-sharking.”
Some states and Congress, seeking to protect military personnel, have capped the annual interest rate at 36 percent. But Kentucky lawmakers year after year have rejected such measures, citing supposed concern for the need of low-income people for quick cash.
More likely the concern was prompted by the cash the prosperous payday industry has poured into campaign coffers and into bank accounts of high-priced Frankfort lobbyists in past years.
But in 2015, the Kentucky General Assembly will get another chance to put some real teeth into state law by limiting the fees payday lenders charge.
A coalition of groups such as the Catholic Conference of Kentucky, Kentucky Youth Advocates and the Kentucky Council of Churches again will support a measure seeking to limit the fees payday lenders charge and enact more consumer protections, said Jason Hall, executive director of the Catholic conference.
State law currently limits a customer to no more than $500 in two loans over two weeks at a cost of $15 per $100 —or $75 for $500.
That means a consumer who takes out a $200 loan, usually over a two-week period, must pay $30 in fees. But too often, as Ms. Downs’ article pointed out, the borrower comes up short and must take out new loans, in part to offset the costs of fees.
“I couldn’t see any way out,” said one laid-off worker who wound up paying $1,420 in fees over about two years.
Kentucky has made progress is catching lenders who exceed the maximum amount of loans per person allowed by state law, using an electronic tracking tool the state adopted in 2010.
Until 2010, the state had no way to track that, short of visiting individual payday loan stores and examining records. But using a new electronic database, the Kentucky Department of Financial Institutions this year has fined 68 payday lenders for violations, with the number increasing each year since 2010.
Lawmakers in 2009 approved the database that tracks payday loans but declined to take the next step, restricting fees. They claimed the state needed to give the database time to work.
It’s working just fine.
Now lawmakers need to do their work and pass a payday loan bill that truly protects consumers.

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