Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Once again

On “taxation without representation”… yeah, its something I talked about back when the whole Joint Fire District issue came up, but I’m hearing the term pop up now and again lately, so I think its time to revisit the issue.

Most often, the phrase is used in conjunction with any Fire District levy that is raised by the Township Trustees. The claim is that because those of us in the Village do not have representation on the governing body of the Fire District (the Trustees themselves in this case), we are being taxed without representation. The problem is that the phrase “taxation without representation” does not truly apply to our situation, because we are represented, though not in the way that is most obvious.

There is no question that the ideal situation would be to have a body guiding the Fire District with which both the Township and Village have a voice in directing. That is not our situation though. Steps have been taken by some (on both sides) to try to change our situation, but that’s an argument for another day. The Village’s representation lies in the fact that we have the ability to choose whether the Fire District levy will pass or fail. That’s right Village types, we are the ones who basically choose whether or not the Fire District (and the Township Trustees) gets that 1.0 mill.

Since 1999, the Village and Township have voted together at least nine times:

  • Windham Exempted School District Levy – November, 2004
  • Windham Township Fire District Levy – November, 2004
  • Windham Exempted School District Board of Education – November, 2003
  • Windham Exempted School District Levy – November, 2003
  • Windham Exempted School District Board of Education – November, 2001
  • Windham Township Fire District Levy – November, 2000
  • Windham Exempted School District Board of Education – November, 1999
  • Windham Exempted School District Levy – November, 1999
  • Windham Township Fire District Levy – November, 1999

(There could be more, forgive me, because there’s lots of numbers and my head already hurts.) First off, we need to disregard elections that fall on the National election cycle (2000, 2004) because of the inflated number of voters. Historically, off-year elections have weaker voter turn-out, and “off-year off-year” elections, such as this year, are simply dismal. Just to ball park a guess, it looks as if only about 40–50% of voters that voted in the National elections (for President and such) last year are going to return to the polls this year to voted in local elections.

In 1999, the Village counted 546 votes for the Mayor’s office (two running), 472 votes for the Clerk’s office (one running), and approximately 550–600 ballots for Village Council (three running). Those ballots could contain votes for either one or two Council Members. The Township counted 304 votes for Trustee (one running) and 269 votes for Clerk (one also). For the Board of Education, approximately 900–950 ballots were cast (three running, two elected). The school levy garnered 932 votes and the fire levy has 928 votes. Because we don’t have exact numbers of each precincts voters, we have to guess at about how many voters from the Village and Township were voting on the three combined elections. My guess is that about 550 Village members and 350 Township members participated, with another 5% just hanging in the wind, add them where you like. The Village accounted for about 60% of the voters; the Township the other 40%.

The 2001 election is a bit harder to figure, because there is less to go on, because of how the races were run. There were 399 votes for Village Treasurer, 392 for Village Council (one running), and approximately 275–300 for two separately balloted Trustee positions, of which one ballot could choose two Trustees. (Two regular Trustees were selected and another to fill a vacant spot.) Approximately 725–750 ballots were cast for the Board of Education. Of this number, my guess is that about 400–420 were from the Village and 300–320 were from the Township. The Village accounted for about 55% at minimum and 60% at maximum of the votes for the Board.

(I’m shortening the next one, because I’m tired of numbers, and you likely are too. If you really want them, beg.) In the 2003 election, the Village accounted for approximately 55–60% of the votes for the school levy and Board of Education.

In the upcoming vote for the Fire District levy, the Village stands to control 60% of the vote once again. This is a huge advantage for the Village in controlling whether the levy passes or fails. To put it simply, when it comes to the Village’s representation on the taxes that are levied on each of us, we have a great deal of control in determining whether those taxes are actually collected. What it would take is one concerted “get out the vote” effort in the Village for (or against) such a levy and it would pass (or fail) in nearly every election.

Simply because the Township puts such a levy on the ballot does not mean that we aren’t represented.

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