Why I filed protest to tax 'repeal'

To the editor:

This letter to the editor is to give my reasons for filing a protest of the petition to "repeal" the 6.71-mill levy passed by the voters in the Spring.

As quoted in the media, I have friends on both sides of the school district budget and financing issues and I have enjoyed lengthy conversations with representatives of both sides. There are legitimate points and arguments to be discussed, and my belief is that each side is represented by intelligent and reasonable people. What I hope we can all agree on is that, regardless of where you stand on the issues or problems, a 6.71-mill "repeal" of the spring levy is too extreme a remedy under any circumstances. (On that score, it appears to me that the local group received some bad advice from an outside advocacy group with an agenda.) I think that the school district and the teachers union are listening. Let's continue with the rational discussion of different perspectives and creative ideas rather than go down this road.

For example, I have recently had the privilege to serve as a Chamber of Commerce representative on a WCSD committee reviewing proposals from private sector businesses as to the transportation, maintenance and grounds, and custodial services functions currently performed by employees. The diverse membership of this committee is a good template for future discussions, and includes representatives from each affected union and outspoken critics of the school district, as well as retired superintendents and representatives of the business community. The work of this group was impressive -- you are invited to attend the Sept. 24 meeting of the School Board to hear the report of the committee and see if you agree.

My point: the 6.71-mill levy will provide funding (under reasonable assumptions) to carry WCSD for five years. During the next five years, I am confident that Westerville -- with the expertise and experience that exists -- can design a creative and sustainable long-term solution upon which the citizens, the school board and the teachers and other employees can agree.

My wife and I are both active in the community and schools and believe Westerville is a community to be treasured. This is my motivation for filing a protest against something which I strongly believe may cause irreparable harm to our community.

Gene Hollins