Dear members of City Council and fellow citizens:
We are writing this letter in response to the Fiscal Year 2015 budget decisions made during the June 9 Oak Ridge City Council meeting. The Council’s overwhelming vote to maintain property tax rates at the same rate they have held steady at since 2009 may bode well for the short-term pocketbooks of our residents, but the long-term results are disconcerting and disheartening for many.
City Council is alienating the tax base that it needs to nurture. The young professionals, business owners, and families with school-aged children who once flocked to this city but now trickle must be heard by Council. These families have the disposable income to spend in Oak Ridge stores, and will pay the property taxes for decades to come that will keep this city viable. Yet at this Council meeting, our voices were not truly heard.
The argument that we continue to hear is that “our schools have plenty of money” and that the schools “need to learn to live within their budget.” The Oak Ridge Schools have proven that they can do this, but what is the cost of this attitude? How does this foster a strong relationship with not only the schools and their employees, but the families and students? How can the Schools continue to maintain excellence without, at the very least, inflationary and cost of living increases, when really it takes much more? [Read more…]