I don't know what is more amazing, my agreeing with Allen Hirons (Letter, "Seniors' exemption for school taxes a dilemma," March 20 MDJ), or the MDJ's willingness to raise this important community issue. I believe removing the senior tax exemption is the right thing to do for several reasons.
The exemption is un-American in the strictest, most literal, sense. The fundamental reason for the American Revolution was "No taxation without representation." Seniors not paying the school property tax and being allowed to vote for school board members is "Representation without taxation."
Some may argue school services are no longer used by seniors. Would the same logic allow citizens to deduct the portion of their taxes devoted to public parks they did not use? Could the same argument be used for families not utilizing the public school services by choosing private schools or home schooling? Do any of these seniors have grandchildren that utilize our public school system? Do they attend school extracurricular events?
Seniors owning homes benefit from any property value a strong, fiscally sound, school system brings to the area and neighborhood. That benefit may not be immediate, but will be realized at the time of home sale or valuation of net worth.
Lastly, our community schools are financially strapped. Budgeting and belt tightening will only go so far. Do we think school teachers are being paid too much? Do we really think increasing class size benefits our young citizens, our schools, or our community?
Luckily our Marietta superintendent has diligently kept funds in the "rainy day" reserve to meet short term needs. Removing the seniors' exemption would help restore that reserve and increase school operating budgets.