As taxpayer, mother, willing to pay the price

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 16, 2003

Death and taxes

- the two things in life we really don't want to deal with and the two things we always will. There's not much I can do about the death issue, but I do have some concerns about the taxes. Coming from Tennessee to Alabama has been largely a wonderful experience. One of the things I truly enjoyed here in my first year was my property tax bill, which was much lower than the one we paid in Tennessee. It was something to gloat about when I called my kin back there, right along with driving distance to the beach and the fact that even as cold as this winter was here, I always had some plant blooming in the yard, while they were having the coldest, iciest, snowiest winter since 1993.

But now, I'm wondering if that low, low property tax is a good thing. I've found the

Andalusia schools to be on par with those in Tullahoma, with excellent teachers and resources. But now I see some of those teachers and resources threatened due to lack of funding. One of my son's favorite teachers may not be back next year, and some of his favorite non-core courses may not survive the cuts either. In the short term, it will save the systems money. But in the long run?

It is a sad equation. Fewer teachers + fewer courses = decrease in educational quality. Fewer teachers mean higher student-teacher ratios, which means less individual attention, which means more and more of our children are going to fall through the cracks. In the long run, many of these children may end up on welfare or in jail due to lack of education, which will not only cost us more financially, but emotionally. It is not a cycle, but a spiral, and the only direction is down.

The possibility of a tax increase passing the public vote remains as as all taxes increases - slim to none. I'll vote for it, though. If paying more in property taxes increases the chances of my children, and all of Alabama's children, of having a better education, I consider those taxes an investment in the future. Theirs, and the state's.

It is a small price to pay, indeed.