The Johnson County Board of Commissioners seeks more of your money. They're seeking a quarter-cent sales tax that they're calling a public safety increase to fund a new courthouse. Here are the top 10 reasons why you shouldn't give it to them:
1. King Louie.
2. King Louie.
3. King Louie.
4. King Louie.
5. King Louie.
6. King Louie.
7. King Louie.
8. King Louie.
9. King Louie.
10. King Louie.
Also, King Louie. The current members of the Johnson County Commission voted to spend $22 million to renovate a building that no one wanted. They made this decision over the objections of well, almost all of their constituents. Other than the friend of county chair Ed Eilert, from whom the county bought the dilapidated building, a few people on the Museum and Parks boards who stand to personally gain from its renovation, and the contractors who get to perform (and profit) from the renovation, I can't find a single human who supported the board's decisions related to King Louie.
If you'll recall, the county purchased the dilapidated former skating rink and bowling alley back in 2011. They paid $1 million for the property, and learned a few years later that the building was worth less than they paid for it because the building was falling down. They made the purchase with no specific plans for the building, because apparently, no one can have too many buildings just laying around gathering dust.
Fast forward another year, and the commissioners agreed to spend another $2 million on the building to keep it from caving in. Fast forward to last year, these commissioners made up some reasons they should spend $22 million of your tax money to renovate the building. I can barely think of the King Louie debacle without feeling just shaky angry.
This was the same year they increased property taxes by about 7 percent at the same time property values increased by about the same rate! So the commissioners essentially presided over a 14 percent tax increase.
They bought King Louie and funded its renovations with the full knowledge and understanding that the courthouse was too small; that it was an aging building; and that it lacked disabled accessibility. They KNEW these things when they were voting to spend massive amounts of cash for things we don't need--like a dilapidated building.
And then there's this: Johnson County already HAS a permanent sales tax devoted to public safety. That public safety sales tax was implemented to replace to quarter-cent sales tax that at one time was directed to local schools. You wanna know WHY commissioners implemented a public safety tax back then, rather than one to fund a courthouse renovation? Because county residents in a taxpayer funded survey were asked which kinds of sales tax they'd be most likely to support. Public safety topped the list. A tax for a new courthouse was dead last.
County commissioners have known there was a need for a courthouse for nearly a decade, perhaps even longer. But they were worried voters would turn it down, and they couldn't risk NOT continuing a sales tax that was about to expire. That's the truth.
And these current commissioners, with the exception of John Toplikar and Michael Ashcraft, are part of the rampant spending problem in Johnson County. We may need a new courthouse--I question whether we need a coroner's office--but it can wait another 2 or 4 years until we have a majority of commissioners who can be trusted to be good stewards of public money. Right now, we have two such commissioners. We need four. A vote for Benjamin Hodge against Steve Klika helps get us closer. Klika is one of the worst tax-and-spend offenders on the board right now.
This tax should be scrapped until we can get more adults on the board, and even with Toplikar and Hodge wins this fall, we're still one vote short of a reasonable commission.