The recent letter about Van Buren’s levy contained some common misconceptions about how schools are funded. The Van Buren District is facing a grave financial situation; it is imperative that voters understand our school’s funding and how the money is spent.

First, most property taxes and bonds set the total amount of funding a school receives. Therefore, for most of our income, Van Buren doesn’t receive additional money when more homes are built or if property values increase. To oversimplify, if the levy is for $2 million dollars and VB has two homes, each home would owe $1 million in taxes. If the district somehow grew to 2 million homeowners, each home would owe $1. The school doesn’t receive any additional money based on the number of new residences built; however, it does receive additional students to educate.

Second, Van Buren understands the challenges of living on a fixed income because it has not received any new operating funds for 15 years. During that time, the school has added students, new courses, and new technologies while being required to pay for unfunded state and federal mandates. Compounding the challenges, because VB is considered a wealthy district, our state funding has decreased by $2 million dollars. The fact that the board and administration have not asked for any new operating funds demonstrates how well they have managed the schools’ finances and taxpayers’ resources.

Third, if you believe there is wasted space in VB’s elementary school, please call and schedule a visit. You’ll enjoy touring the 16-year-old facility. You won’t see wasted space. To eliminate waste, look no further than the money spent keeping Van Buren’s collection of old, mismatched buildings operational. Van Buren continues to be required to spend more on facility maintenance and repairs than its peers.

School funding is complex and impossible to explain in a brief letter. Please educate yourself by visiting our website, our Facebook page at SuccessForVBS and by attending one of our upcoming public meetings.

Bottom line: passing this levy is absolutely critical for Van Buren. If it fails, there will be severe consequences for students: balancing the budget will require significant cuts to personnel, programs, and services. We ask you to vote yes for our kids, our community and our future on March 17th.

Jim Bado

Van Buren Levy Team

heldman the right man for the job

As I have driven through Findlay and the Hancock County countryside, I have noticed many signs saying: “Vote for (insert name here) for Sheriff.” I didn’t recognize any of the names on the signs until recently, when I saw a “Heldman for Sheriff” sign. I know the name Mike Heldman, he’s our sheriff right now. He’s a neighbor and I know him to be a straight-forward kind of guy. He came and spoke to the Scouts in the Boy Scout troop in which I am active. Why would the citizens of Hancock County need someone as their sheriff other than him? That question intrigued me.

I encounter deputy sheriffs each and every workday. I recently asked a few of them, point blank, “On the QT, what’s the problem with the sheriff’s office that would warrant not electing Heldman for another term? What’s broke and needs fixing?” The response which I have received directly from all of the deputies I talked to, which I believe are honest responses, is, “I don’t know of any problem with the sheriff’s department like that.” The deputies with whom I have spoken believe that Sheriff Heldman is running a tight ship and running it well. That is reassuring. I don’t know if I would be as assured if there was an unknown and untested someone running the ship. I can’t help but think of the old adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t mess with it.”

Probably the best deal for Sheriff Heldman, and Hancock County in general, is that there are two other people seeking the office of sheriff. While serving as sheriff and enforcing the law you are bound to encounter disgruntled individuals such as drug dealers, scofflaws and other miscreants. Half of those people can vote for one of the guys running against Mike, and the other half can vote for the other guy. Then, when the votes of the honest, law-abiding citizens of Hancock County are counted, the results will be that we will have re-elected our Sheriff, Mike Heldman, for another term in office.

Vote for Mike Heldman, your sheriff, our sheriff.

Kelton Smith