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Letter to the Editor – Terry Nichols – 1-30-2013

Taxation Without Representation

On January 16th I appeared before the Dunn County Board requesting a non-binding referendum question be put on the April 2013 election. In 2012, I requested the same referendum question three times before the Dunn County Board. My referendum question would give local property taxpayers the ability to express their view through voting as it relates to the current funding of the Wisconsin Technical College System.

This question would ask the voters if it is time to move funding of all public higher education to the state level and off local property taxes. The current funding of the Wisconsin Technical College system is taxation without representation as these local technical college boards are appointed not elected.

People need to understand one fact that cannot be disputed. The pursuit of public higher education is completely individual choice, it’s not mandatory. K1-12 is mandatory, the school boards are elected, and the people have a choice through voting to elect their school board officials.

The brick wall I’m running into is the Dunn County Board as you can see by the number of times I have appeared before the county board. It would take action by the elected county board supervisors to follow process and express their concerns to initiate the referendum process. So far, they have remained silent, not acceptable in my mind.

Here’s what I’m talking about. I requested some information from the Town of Colfax clerk as to what the township taxes were in the last four years for Chippewa Valley Tech College district:

• 2012 Levy for taxes collected in 2013 – $121,989.26

• 2011 Levy for taxes collected in 2012 – $119,571.64

• 2010 Levy for taxes collected in 2011 – $137,529.64

• 2009 Levy for taxes collected in 2010 – $124,252.29

The grand total is $503,342.80. Ladies and gentleman, this is only one township in Dunn County! Also keep in mind that not all residents in the township are property taxpayers. Only the property taxpayers are committed under the current antiquated funding system. This is an unfair situation as I’m sure citizens, other than property taxpayers in our communities, take advantage of CVTC’s education opportunities. Moving the Tech College funding to the state level like the UW System puts the accountability at the state level. We elect people to go to Madison and be stewards of the state’s resources. We expect leadership from our elected officials. Until funding of all public higher education goes to the state level, the current funding system is nothing but taxation without representation. I have expressed my concerns to Representative Tom Larson, Senator Terry Moulton, and recently to Senator Harsdorf at a listening session held at the Dunn County Judicial Center. If you know the county board supervisor that represents you, give them a call and ask them; “Why are seniors, living on fixed incomes and trying to stay in their homes, paying for something that is completely individual choice to attend”.

Terry Nichols
Town of Colfax