John Acardo told the audience at last night’s candidates forum at the Egyptian Theatre that only 238 early votes have been cast for the entire county so far for the April 5th Consolidated Elections. He told me in a brief conversation during the meet and greet session that the state board of elections was downgrading their voter turnout projections statewide to 17% of registered voters.
So that means 83% of registered voters think things are just running along fine and dandy? Then what’s all this talk about high taxes, layoffs and service cuts?
Tonight’s candidate forum, also held at the Egyptian Theatre, will focus on the 11 candidates seeking four seats on the District 428 Board of Education. The district is wrestling with a $1.4 million budget deficit. The tax rate for debt service from the $110 million referendum is spiraling upward as repayment projections based on new growth demographics now must be met by those of near 10% unemployment and 1100 vacant homes due to historic levels of foreclosures.
This new school board will decide how the district will spend $21 million in surprise grant money — or whether to soften what could be a death blow to taxpayers. They will negotiate a new contract with the district’s collective bargaining units. They will likely asked for solutions to more cuts from state and federal revenue sources. They may even face consolidations mandated by the state.
This evening’s forum begins with a meet and greet at 6pm. If there are some tough questions you’d like asked of the candidates its probably best to show up early for the meet and greet and ask them directly. The formal forum begins at 7pm.
Voter turnout in this election may well determine how much longer the economy remains in the tank and perhaps how much longer many families will stay in their homes. Local politicians are half-right when they say the economy is a national problem. It is a national problem because so many communities are suffering from tax rates too high to raise and revenues to low to sustain. The fix is from the bottom up and that starts with Tuesday, April 5th.
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