Hickman Mills Community Loses BIG Time After Tuesday’s Election

The voters of the Hickman Mills Community have voted to increase their property taxes by $256.50/$100,000 assessed valuation. Supposedly that will increase teacher pay so the Hickman Mills School District will have the highest paid teachers in the area. Of course, what wasn’t stated is that administrators, including the Superintendent, will also be receiving pay increases. Cuts to the budget weren’t even considered before asking stakeholders to pay more in taxes. Because it was the school board that approved putting this issue on the ballot, it is the school board members (who this community voted for) who have demonstrated no concern for their patrons. (That’s certainly something to bear in mind when they’re up for re-election.)

They actually have demonstrated no concern for the school district they’re supposed to be overseeing, either. Hickman Mills currently has the highest eviction rate in the city, per Councilwoman Parks-Shaw. When rents are raised to cover the increase in taxes, that eviction rate will only increase as will the number of transient students. It is those transient students who make it difficult for the school district to achieve full accreditation. Now it will only be worse.

The other issue that was barely mentioned, is that Hickman Mills teachers will only be receiving the top salary until another district raises their salaries. Will our school board then ask its patrons to pay even more in taxes?

This short-sightedness rings of politics, and politicos were certainly involved. DaRon McGee, current school board president, certainly has bigger ambitions. He was just elected to the Jackson County legislature. That in itself shows his interest in Hickman Mills is limited.

Of course, the other two players were Freedom, Inc. and John Sharp with his Southland Progress (an ironic term). It was Mr. Sharp’s paper, the “Martin City Telegraph”, that was delivered to everyone’s driveway a week before the election with the information that property taxes would increase by $23 rather than the actual $256.50 which is a 25% increase.

The other issue the Hickman Mills Community decided to approve was a bond issue for who knows what. There was vague talk of tearing down empty buildings, of having two junior highs; but there were no definite plans presented. When has that ever happened in Hickman Mills? In the past, voters have been presented with specifics as to what their money would be spent on. In this case, the school board, under Mr. McGee’s leadership, voted to put this on the ballot without themselves having any specific plans. Basically, they were asking the community to approve a pig in a poke and that’s exactly what happened.

Again, Mr. Sharp seemed to be leading the charge on this. He was the one who toured one of the empty buildings; something even school board members haven’t done. He’s all about tearing down the original Smith-Hale building. He’s told several people I know that it’s built on “fill”, but has he seen a report from a geotechnical firm to confirm this? I’ve talked with a previous school board member who knows nothing about “fill”. Interestingly, one of the big contributors to the bond campaign just happens to be a construction company. A lot of Kansas Citians believe city council members vote in favor of construction companies over the community. Maybe old habits die hard.