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LIGHTNING EDITORIAL: Houston, we've got a problem

We eagerly await the list of budget cuts Henderson County School Board members Josh Houston and Colby Coren will be recommending in support of their public condemnation of the 5-cent tax increase the Board of Commissioners approved on June 6.

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It has been a long time since we’ve seen as stunning a display of hypocrisy as the two board members showed when they sent up a request for more than a million dollars in new funding then gave commissioners who granted it the back of their hand.
Houston and Coren, elected in 2012 and 2014 in single-shot campaigns engineered by the Republican executive committee, were reacting to the unusual but laudable act of the central office and the School Board to do something that too few agencies ever do. They thanked the commissioners for having the courage to raise taxes not only for schools but for law enforcement, kids’ health (school nurses), new school buildings and health and safety (the new health sciences center on the Pardee campus and a new ambulance, emergency operations and rescue squad complex).
Commissioners Tommy Thompson, Charlie Messer and Michael Edney voted yes while Grady Hawkins and Bill Lapsley voted no on the motion to raise the tax rate from 51.36 to 56.5 cents per $100 valuation. The school system’s increase of $1.4 million accounted for a little over a penny of the 5-cent tax increase.
“Our County Commissioners continue to thoughtfully navigate the fiscal and strategic demands of their leadership, and we are so very thankful for their ongoing commitment to public education in our community,” the school administration said in the news release. “The Board of Education and school staff support the commissioners’ 2016-17 budget and value their collective commitment to the citizens of Henderson County.”
Houston rose (via email) to object.
“I was never asked whether or not I supported a county property tax increase like the implied press release below,” Houston wrote. “We unanimously supported our county appropriation request but we were never asked about support of a tax increase. ... At this time on record I do not support the property tax increase in Henderson County.”
School Boards in North Carolina have no taxing power. Funding of schools comes mostly from the state Legislature, with counties funding school buildings, teacher supplements and some other costs. Without the extra funding, Henderson County schools would have left on the table a $200,000 Golden Leaf grant for the digital device program.
Coren devoted four sentences to his second of Houston’s criticism, and nine more to praising the county commissioners, school administrators and schoolteachers. He heard the central committee’s call to arms but, bless his heart, couldn’t help but express his true feelings.
This embarrassing stunt ought not be allowed to detract from a welcome expression of solidarity between two boards that work much better for the good of all now than they once did. As for Houston and Coren, they ought to spend less time spouting anti-tax boilerplate. It just diminishes their own good record as School Board members.