No way to run a government

Of all the facts that came to our attention in the past two weeks, that the Douglas County School District will be punished for being debt free is the one that causes the most consternation.

The school district is currently charging about 10 cents per $100 assessed valuation. But by the end of 2011, the school bond approved by voters in 1992 will retire.

That school bond raised $29 million to build Pau-Wa-Lu Middle School, PiƱon Hills and Minden elementary schools when the Douglas County School District was growing at 5-6 percent a year.

The 1992 bond carried the school district through the past 15 years and was an example of how a school bond should be structured.

But because Douglas did such a good job, the district will be debt free in 2011 and that, under Nevada law, is a bad thing.

The school district received funds from the motor vehicle privilege tax based on its debt service. That means that as the bond tax rate decreases, which it has, so does the money available to the district for maintaining schools.

School officials are proposing a bond as much to preserve the funding they're getting from the state as to actually conduct maintenance on schools.

We doubt that's a reason voters will embrace when they go to the polls.

But something must be done. The money available for maintaining the schools from this source dropped $400,000 last year and won't increase in the future.

Rather than punish Douglas County's schools for frugality, they should be rewarded by freezing funding from the privilege tax available to the district. We believe school officials will end up having to take this issue up with the Legislature.


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