By Scott Buttram
TRUSSVILLE — On Feb. 25, Trussville gets a second bite at the apple. A second chance to right a wrong.
We have an opportunity to strengthen one of our greatest assets as a community, our school system.
Voters rejected an opportunity to properly fund schools by voting down a property tax proposal in March 2010. Almost four years later, the opportunity is before us again.
The mere thought of raising property taxes has produced a spirited discussion among citizens. Reasonable people can certainly disagree without one being absolutely right and another being absolutely wrong. Americans have had a sensitivity against taxes that has existed even longer than the United States.
I don’t know anyone who likes taxes. I certainly understand the apprehension of imposing more by choice. I also know that we are intelligent enough to realize that taxes are necessary for services and to build and maintain the infrastructure needed for a viable community.
Nothing dictates the growth pattern and value of a housing market more than low crime and great schools. Other than elementary school facilities, Trussville scores well in both categories, which is why the city has enjoyed positive growth for so long.
There have been reasons ranging from valid to absurd from people on both sides of the issue. But what is not in dispute, regardless of a chosen side, is that about 300 students are housed in substandard structures and that number isn’t going down any time soon.
It’s fine to question past spending decisions and priorities of the Trussville City Board of Education and the city of Trussville. I’ve done the same after tornadoes ravaged our area and after the Sandy Hook shootings. Citizens should be vigilant in keeping an eye on such things. But this spending decision is in the hands of citizens.
The underlying issue here is actually very simple. These modular structures are not safe. The buildings are not safe from severe weather that dogs Alabama and they are not safe from intruders. Every deadly weather scenario does not come with a warning. Those who would do harm to our children almost never announce their intent in advance.
So now, you and I are on the hot seat. It’s our call, not the board of education’s, not the Trussville City Council’s. In this case, we the people set the priority and we the people make the spending decision.
Punishing children for the past decisions of adults defies logic and should be beneath us. No one can claim the high road by taking the low road.
Rarely do we have the opportunity to invest in an area that provides a more direct return on our investment than do schools. We need to seize that opportunity.
I am voting yes and I hope you will, too, because it’s time to build some schools. It’s past time.
You can contact Scott Buttram via email at Scott.Buttram@TrussvilleTribune.com and follow him on Twitter @ScottButtram