Letter: Think BCC when you vote

Butler County Times Gazette

There is a group of people, led by Rep. Kristey Williams of Augusta, that is trying to change the structure and positive impact of Butler Community College with this election. No matter how well they believe their intentions are in the name of lowering property taxes, their actions of dominating the board of trustees with anti-tax electorates is not only irresponsible but is a foolish solution to our tax inequities. And, it will diminish the vital role BCC plays in educating high school and college students in our county and region.

Our college's tax rate is the result of policy changes of promised funding at the state level. In exchange for the state's community colleges agreeing to move from oversight by the Kansas State Board of Education (pK-12) to the Kansas Board of Regents, the Legislature promised a stepped-up level of State funding in return for the lowering of local property taxes. Of course, this funding began evaporating. Unfortunately, the Legislature, including Rep. Williams, did not fulfill its promise leaving us in the present state of needing to rely on Butler County residents for a third of its funding. However, it is noteworthy that BCC still has the third lowest mill levy of the 19 community colleges.

It is not a case of runaway taxes or poor leadership at the local level like the Williams group portrays. Look at who the trustees were before she began influencing the last election. They were all respected, positive community members, independent thinkers, and leaders. Three years ago we stated these same facts and asked Rep. Williams to lead us to equitable changes in Topeka where she represents us. Her answer was that it would be too difficult of a task to accomplish in Topeka, which is exactly where this issue needs to be addressed, rather than passing the buck to the local level because of the lack of political will to do the right thing.

So, we would respectfully ask all of you to please consider two things. Vote for trustees that will promise to seek innovative solutions and guide BCC on a continued path of excellence in education — trustees who have no hidden agenda. And, help by asking Rep. Kristey Williams to do the right thing by leading us to a successful solution in Topeka along with Senators Ty Masterson (President) and Mike Fagg as well as Rep. Will Carpenter.

— David Sundgren, El Dorado and  Len Hudson, Augusta