EDITORIAL: Pay and pay again, in Suburban

Staff report
Friday, Aug. 4, 2017--A new track and artificial turf field surface have been completed at York Suburban stadium. York Suburban residents will have to register with the district and purchase a $5 badge to gain access to the new facility. Bill Kalina photo

The York Suburban School District has very nice facilities. And we should hope so — the district’s taxpayers forked over hard-earned money for them.

That goes for any school district. Remember when you see a new building, an all-weather track or a turf field — someone paid for them.

We all did.

More:York Suburban charging district taxpayers to use refurbished stadium

Even if we didn’t all agree on the need, the cost or the timing, school boards that we elected decided to go forward with these projects. They decided we should all dig a little deeper.

If enough people disagree with a school board, and decide to vote, they can turn out the members who supported the spending and replace them with people they think will be more careful with their money.

And even if their cost-conscious school board candidates lose, these taxpayers can turn to the state Legislature for relief.

That’s why over the past 10 years we’ve seen state-assigned tax caps for each school district and a tightening number of exemptions to exceed those caps.

It’s why support in the Capitol continues to grow for eliminating school property taxes altogether and instead paying for public education with a higher and expanded sales taxes and higher personal income taxes.

That’s despite concerns such a switch would not provide reliable, adequate school funding.

Agree or not, this is currently the winning narrative: School boards too often squander tax dollars on wants rather than needs, and meanwhile taxpayers, particularly elderly residents, struggle to cover the bills.

It’s against this backdrop the York Suburban school board made the terrible decision to begin charging district residents to use the high school’s track and field area.

The area used to be open 24 hours a day, and the public had free access to it. However, the district says some users were abusing the facilities — by smoking, for instance, and littering, and riding bikes on the field.

Now, after a recently completed $23,795 project, it will be closed to non-residents, and district taxpayers will have to use a security badge to swipe in.

All of that is reasonable. Limit the use to those who paid for it, and make sure those who are using it are taking care of it.

The problem is the $5 annual cost for the security badge.

These residents have already paid for those facilities, and now they're being asked to pay again for the right to use them.

It’s like emptying someone’s pockets — and then kicking them in the shin for good measure.

No, it’s not much at all, but it's the principle of thing.

Why can’t the district cover this small fee?

Why is it more acceptable to go back, hand out, to the taxpayers?

This was a completely tone-deaf decision by the district.

And it plays right in to the current narrative.