Times for Cuts and Stadium Accountability

By: Roger Sheppard
By: Roger Sheppard

What Federal Benefit Would YOU Give Up for Your Country?

Two topics this week:

Sequestration and the PHS Stadium issue
First, sequestration.
While it is impossible to make something 100% fair to everyone in a nation of 300-million people, sequestration or something like it is a necessity.
No individual, no family, no business, no nation can continue to spend more than it brings in. That’s what we and many countries around the world have been doing in recent years. And we can either deal with some pain now, or deal with massive pain later on. The time has come to bring federal spending under control.
But the devil, as they say, is in the details. Some say “raise taxes.” Others say “cut programs and benefits.” It seems to me that those pushing for tax increases have gotten their way more than those who have asked for spending cuts. That can’t continue.
Most everyone can agree that trimming the deficit is important. But almost no one can agree on how it is to be done!
I’d like to ask you this:
Which benefit would YOU be willing to give up, in an effort to get the federal deficit under control? Would it be the mortgage tax break, college tuition tax break, some monthly payment you might get from the federal government, or something else? Please, write me and tell me which specific benefit you’d personally be willing to give up. Not someone else. But YOU.
I don’t expect that many people will answer because NO ONE wants to give up a tax break or advantage. They want other people to give them up. Or they want spending cuts made to programs they don’t care about.
I’m interested in knowing what specific tax benefit you’d be willing to give up.
Me?  I’m willing to give up the mortgage tax break. It may cost me a few hundred dollars or maybe $1,000 a year when all is said and done. But we all are going to have to give a little.
Yes, we can do things more efficiently. But that usually means: do it with fewer people. Well guess what? While we cry “Efficiency!” out of one side of our mouths, we forget that to get more efficient we will have to do it by employing fewer people. Those people have JOBS. When we get rid of their jobs, they have to find work elsewhere or the jobless rate increase. Again, we don’t care if someone else loses his or her job. Our mantra is: “Just don’t take MY job or get rid of someone who is there to provide a service to ME!”
OK. Now on to the PHS Stadium issue.
As you may know, the spectator seating areas (the stands) at the old PHS football stadium have been condemned. Folks have been meeting to figure out a way to get them fixed in time for this fall’s football season. Football is a main source of revenue for the athletic programs at any school, and that includes PHS.
Full disclosure: I’m a graduate of PHS, as were my parents, my siblings, my daughter, and my wife. So were many of my life-long friends. So I support PHS.
But it is incredibly unfair for the Wood County Board of Education to agree to give or loan $700,000 to fix up these seats, while the same Board has virtually ignored the needs of Parkersburg South’s athletic programs since the school was founded more than 40 years ago!   The students at South had to wait for about 30 years to get their own football and soccer facility – Erickson All-Sports Facility – and then supporters have paid for or donated EVERYTHING to make that facility what it is today. It is still in need of seating, but that has to wait for organizers and supporters to raise the money to get them, because the Board isn’t going to help.
PHS supporters made a powerful plea for help at a recent Board meeting, and the Board acquiesced.
It was the wrong thing to do.
The board should have agreed to put a bond levy on the ballot as soon as possible to seek the public’s support to pay for the upgrade at PHS…AND the completion of Erickson…AND whatever athletic improvements may be needed at Williamstown High School, the other (and sometimes most forgotten) public high school in Wood County. Yes, that bond levy would take money to put on a ballot. Yes, it would take a while for the money to come in. And, yes, it might fail.
But the money should NOT come from the funds needed to help bring West Virginia test scores out of the cellar, and to increase graduation rates. High school athletics are important but NOT as important as success later in life for those athletes who will never play college or professional sports, or for the large number of students who are not athletically inclined.
I hope the Board has the opportunity to look at this issue again and use the taxpayers’ money more wisely.
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