Tax referendum affects present, future of Wayne County

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The late Whitney Houston said it best in her hit single “The Greatest Love of All.”

Today’s children are our future.

We need to “teach them well and let them lead the way.”

We must “give them a sense of pride.”

And we must be their hero.

Less than two months ago, the Wayne County Board of Education and Wayne County Commissioners jointly approved 40 school projects to be completed within the next five years. That move depends on whether a quarter-of-a-cent sales tax and use referendum passes on the March 3 Primary Election ballot.

Honestly, it’s a no-brainer.

Over the next decade, Wayne County Public Schools administrators project that we’ll need at least $100 million in building replacements, classroom additions, renovations or campus updates and safety and security upgrades to the 27 schools in our county. They’ve put together a three-phase plan to address those concerns.

Over the past month, WCPS officials, county commissioners and board members attended six community meetings to discuss the Phase I project, which is set to cost about $32 million. That may be a little steep for your wallet, but think about this – that miniscule tax increase could lead to a $2.6 million payday over the next year.

If that happens, WCPS can use the funding to secure a loan to help complete Phase I.

When we as consumers spend our dollars in other counties, we pay a higher tax rate. Those counties use those funds for their respective school systems and other subsidies. Car dealerships are the largest money makers any county possesses and there are plenty of those in Wayne County that assist our tax base.

We have eight schools in our county that are 50 years or older. They’re in dire need of repair, and one school is sinking into the ground. It’s surprising – and upsetting – that our children are attending schools that could easily be designated a health hazard, shut down for faulty equipment or condemned.

Once the state budget passes, the county will receive $19.1 million to construct a new Rosewood Middle School.

We need this tax referendum to pass, too.

I’m not asking you to say “yes.”

Do your own research.

Talk with your children’s teachers, school administrators, neighbors and politicians. Ask the “tough” questions to get the answers about what they’re doing to ensure your child’s safety as well as improve their education.

We’re still in the early-voting period, which ends Feb. 29 at three precincts – Wayne County Public Library, Mount Olive Train Depot and Pikeville Harmony Lodge No. 340. Each location is open daily, including operation hours of 8 a.m.-3 p.m. on Feb. 29.

Again, keep in mind the future belongs to our children.

Let’s lead them in the right direction.

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