Feb 272015

By Tammy Gray

The Holbrook City Council tabled a resolution regarding tax credit donations to schools Tuesday evening that would have been sent to the state legislature. The move was made to allow time to learn more about the potential effects and to give council members an opportunity to share their opinions.

During the meeting the council addressed a slim agenda, which included a request from a coalition of mayors and councils to support proposed legislation that would increase the tax credit cap for donations to public schools. Mayor Jeff Hill, Vice Mayor Charles Haussman and Councilman Wade Carlisle were absent, due to other obligations.

The proposed legislation would increase the current maximum tax credit from $200 per individual and $400 per couple to $1,000 per individual and $2,000 per couple. The change would make the credit the same as the maximum allowed credit for scholarship donations to private schools.

Councilman Richard Peterson, a retired public school teacher, noted that he researched the issue and does not support the legislation.

“How much is going to come out of state funds? There is no potential cost estimate,” he said. “If schools think they need more money, they should do it on their own merits.”

Peterson explained that the issue is being presented as one of fairness, and proponents argue that if donors to private schools can receive larger tax credits, then public schools should be able to offer the same opportunity. He pointed out, however, that despite the argument of fairness, two entirely different issues are being compared.

The tax credit for public schools is for donations made to extracurricular programs. Tax credits for donations made to scholarships for private schools are only available when made to certain organizations, according to Peterson, and those organizations base scholarship awards on need. He explained that they allow underprivileged students the opportunity to attend private schools.

“We’re comparing apples to oranges,” he said. “They’re putting it out there as an issue of fairness, but we’re talking about two things that aren’t the same thing.”

Councilman Phil Cobb stated that he was opposed to any type of public funding for private schools.

“I think private schools should fund themselves,” he said. “That’s my opinion.”

Peterson pointed out that the tax credits result in less money in the state’s general fund and the proposal does not include any information on how much it could potentially cost the state.

Council members agreed to table the resolution until the absent council members could weigh in on the issue and more information is available.

In other action Feb. 24, the council:

* Canceled the Tuesday, March 10, meeting due to the city election scheduled that day.

* Approved the expenditure of up to $7,500 to RDO Equipment for repairs to the backhoe used at the golf course.

* Approved an agreement with Patricia Weatherford for Mexican dance classes at the city’s community building.

The next regular council meeting is scheduled at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, March 24, at city hall.