EDITORIAL: Newspapers offer good forum for complex information
It was a site to behold. During a trip to Milwaukee last week, one of those too rare moments when civil engagement made a difference in the outcome of government decision-making. The school board was considering a 16+ percent increase in its prop...
It was a site to behold.
During a trip to Milwaukee last week, one of those too rare moments when civil engagement made a difference in the outcome of government decision-making.
The school board was considering a 16+ percent increase in its property tax levy to expand extracurricular activities and other "frills," such as educating children. More than 300 people packed the school board auditorium, and now levy increase will only be a little more than 9 percent.
I have little doubt the reporter at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel who unraveled the budget for the newspaper's readers was disappointed however. As a longtime government reporter, I've felt that disappointment. It's been a long time since the tax bill arrived unannounced by a caller irate about the cost of local government.
That's the problem with getting all the news from a broadcast medium, particularly television. An anchor can't untangle the intricacies and complications of a budget like the Milwaukee Public School's in a 40-second voice-over. Even if it was a well-suited medium, there's a good chance the message delivery wouldn't stick in quite the same way. That's something newspapers are much better qualified to handle.
Now standing in front of the school district's administrative building, mic in hand, to say the board is postponing a decision that could cost the city's nearly 250,000 households, an estimated $180 for an average home.
In Milwaukee, the public got lucky. The board delayed its decision, which would have cost property owners an extra $17 million for schools alone.
The 9 percent increase is still going to put a squeeze on many, but for the average homeowner, it's a $68 savings over the original proposal.
It's something to think about when Superior's own school district considered a 17 percent increase at one point that prompted no one to show up at the school board meetings to find out what's going on.