Wednesday, March 22, 2006

If it's community property, it must be mine

Many years ago, I used to pick up my wife for dinner after work. She worked at a Handicapped Workshop in Rockville.

One day we pulled up after hours so she could pick up her car and a woman was emptying a van full of garbage in the Workshop's dumpster. "Hey, lady, what are you doing? I said, "That dumpster is for the Workshop only."

She turned and said, "I PAY TAXES FOR THIS! It's COMMUNITY PROPERTY!" She finished dumping her garbage and left. She had no right in the world to add expense to the Workshop's garbage removal bills but she, like far too many people, think that paying taxes is a license to pillage community trusts.

At school budget time the schools are trying to make nickels scream by hanging on to every one they can allocate, schools have to balance the books and beg taxpayers to pass enough money FOR KID EXPENSES. One way to help the schools is to let them manage their resources responsibly and leave NON-KID EXPENSES off the table.

Off hours use of school facilities is an extraordinary expense and needs to be properly accounted and responsibly supervised. Adding non-educational expenses to the school budget makes taxpayers scream thinking the schools are out of control.

The town of Ashford should no more let the middle school resources and facilities be offered to the community for free than let the Ashford Fire Engines be used to water private lawns for free in off peak hours. Both notions are absurd at face value.

The school can be made available off-hours, inexpensively and responsibly by observing good accounting procedures. That way nobody gets taken advantage of. And that means everybody pays something to use the school resources. For community use, funds can be cleanly allocated elsewhere.

Otherwise, let's just merge the budgets back together.

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