To the Editor:
A Geneva resident recently sent me an email entitled “I’m Done.” This resident recently spent many hours of his personal time developing a solution to the massive $300+ million debt the Geneva School District is carrying.
In his own words, this is why he is giving up: “I know I will never be heard by this board, nor can [I] make any difference. Banging against a brick wall is old and hurts. We are likely moving back to our home state. The business signals and schools are a key part, and apathy by parents and neighbors all figure in.”
At least 16 businesses have recently closed in Geneva. No doubt some of these closings were a direct result of high property taxes. It seems every day another local business says, “I’m done.”
Five years ago, I helped form a group whose goal was to inform local homeowners and businesses how their tax dollars are spent. That group has evolved into Geneva TaxFACTS. No matter your opinion of the group, we have achieved our goal of educating the community.
As spokesperson for Geneva TaxFACTS, I quickly realized two things: board members and employees of taxing bodies don’t like to be questioned, and the apathy in Geneva is appalling. Without taxpayer participation, taxing bodies and elected board members can easily begin to feel unaccountable for their actions.
To ensure taxing bodies and board members are accountable to the community, the community must be involved. I can’t tell you the number of people who have attended local meetings, realized they have no voice and – out of frustration – vowed never to return. This leads to the reality that if taxing bodies aren’t held accountable, they will do whatever they want.
With only a few people involved, nothing will change. Businesses are leaving this community because high taxes are harming Geneva.
Geneva TaxFACTS will continue to observe and be involved, but a few people can’t do it all. Individual community members need to show up at meetings and speak up when needed. They need to write or call the board members and tell them they aren’t happy with the direction being taken.
What is your plan of action to get involved and make a difference in your hometown?
Go to www.genevataxfacts.org and sign up for the email list. Get on board and help keep us afloat.