Letter to the editor – John Thompson

Stop the bond

To the Editor,

This is not about the children. This is about banks and construction firms. 

I walked around the community last week talking to residents; most people are upset about the cost and timing of this 20 million dollar bond. 

One woman told me she felt “lied to.” When she participated in a town hall on the Casino Referendum she asked if property taxes would go down. She received a very confident “yes”. Within days of the Casino opening she felt betrayed to hear of the new proposal to raise taxes. 

In a community with a population that has been in decline since 1950, it is beyond reason to argue we need to construct new classrooms. If you believe you are “saving money” by raising your taxes I have a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn. But you won’t be able to afford that bridge if this referendum passes because you will be on the hook for building a bunch of stuff we already have. 

Reasoning that students will get a better education if we take them from one room and put them in a newer room is the same logic as stating they will get a better education if the school district buys them all $400 sneakers.  It does nothing for the student to teacher ratio. It does nothing to improve the learning experience.  It’s a waste of money. 

Hy-Vee and Wild Rose just brought new jobs to the community. But jobs do not necessarily bring residents. Greene County currently has a higher property tax rate than both Carroll and Calhoun county. Raising the property tax again raises the cost to both property owners and renters. Why would we institute a bond that makes it less affordable to come to our community when the benefit will not help the education of our children?  If we want more people in Greene County we need to keep the cost of living competitive inside Greene County. 

The “cost saving” geothermal system (that they will raise our taxes to build) is similar to the system installed in the Fort Madison Prison which led to massive cost overruns.  Nearly two years after the ribbon-cutting ceremony the building remains shuttered. 

And on the subject of closed buildings we have the former high school in Grand Junction.  In 2012, 1.6 million dollars was spent on renovating the Intermediate School in Grand Junction. I assume that it was enough money to keep the building in good repair for more than 2 years. When a community loses its school it loses its heart and soul.  It loses business. It loses population.

The final insult from the school board was when they mailed a proposal to all the registered voters attached to a ballot request.  They are spending our tax dollars to solicit more tax dollars and they are not doing it in accordance of the Iowa Campaign Ethics and Disclosure Board. 

In May of this year the Greene County School Board turned down a sharing agreement for a transportation director that would have cost our community no resources but brought us about 170k in funds.  The School Board turned it down because of a turf war with Paton-Churdan. This is not the type of stewardship I want to blindly follow into unneeded construction that is so far forecast to cost 23 million. 


On a positive note…in order for this to pass the referendum needs 60% support. We are organizing and getting some professional help to fight this waste. Find us on Facebook at our page “Stop the Bond: Invest in the Whole Community” or email me at john_kurt_thompson [at] yahoo [dot] com

—John Thompson is a ‘97 graduate of JSHS


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