February 10, 2016

LETTER TO ED: School district needs to be forthcoming about upcoming bond issue

Vern and Karen Stephenson

This letter is addressed to the USD 231 school board, the Gardner mayor and city council and all taxpaying citizens of Gardner.

We want to express serious concerns about the GE school district as well as Gardner City finances. We are senior citizens living on retirement income. As a result, our income has dropped since 2007 due to stock market fluctuations and frozen social security; this is, of course, in addition to increased taxes such as the state of Kansas 1 percent sales tax increase, Gardner mill levy increase and a 24 percent increase in water rates over three years just to name a few.

When we read in the newspaper that USD 231 has requested the city of Gardner make a commitment to spend money providing infrastructure for new schools and then we read that the mayor and some city councilmen state the city has “a long history of supporting the schools,” we are very concerned! Has the “long history of supporting schools” been demonstrated during the worst recession the United States has ever seen? It probably goes without saying that we are not the only people in Gardner whose incomes have decreased or been frozen by this economy.

We want more information! Do not tell us that the school district is not prepared to discuss numbers yet. Our suggestion is to hold public meetings in which it is disclosed exactly why the classroom sizes must be so small; explain what measures have been taken to deal with the record-setting loss of state, county and local taxes.

We would like to see and hear a lot more dialogue regarding possible bond issues. Perhaps the people in charge should justify these spending measures as though they are going to have to pay out of their pockets and not just with the public’s money.


  1. One of the first things I want to know is what is the total amount of appraised values for the city of Gardner for 2010 for commercial properties and the same information for residential properties and I want the information for each of these entities separately. Then I need to know the same information for the year of 2011 so I will be able to determine what will be the decrease in tax revenue we can anticipate while starting to work on the budgets for 2012. I would the Jo. Co. Appraiser Welcome for this information but I know for a fact he would be wanting to charge me for the information which I cannot afford to pay and which I do not feel I should have to pay after helping to pay his salary and all of the costs of his department. Final values have not been set yet but he could give us the information as as March 1, 2011 when he sent out notices of values. The city has to have this information in order to start knowing where they stand for the budget coming up and I want them to share this info with all citizens – we pay the bills – we need and deserve the answer to this question and deserve the answers to many more questions.

    I have had it up to my eyeballs with the stonewalling techniques used by by our government entities and elected officials. Citizens deserve much more than they have been getting and the citizens better start doing a better job in demanding that their government entities work for THEM rather than the big boys and other special interests.

  2. Gilhaus/Diener says:

    Someone needs to run a list of these people’s salaries. I bet if we trimmed 20 percent off the administrator’s “take” we could realize a lot of money to be used for books. I think they have forgot who they work for, considering what a high handed approach they take. Funny, we never hear anything from the school board. Are they hanging their heads in shame?

  3. You never hear anything from the School Board nor the Gardner city administration or elected officials, the County Commissioners, the legislators, etc., etc. I, just this past week, sent an e-mail to the Gardner city council advising them how I think communication has been so POOR for years now and how this should be an important factor in selecting the next city manager but that is far from getting to the source of the big problems when our present Mayor and others do what they please and certainly do not do anything to please the citizens. For far too long we have had the conniving, half truths, lying, manipulation, propaganda, corrupt politics etc., etc. to get the special interests what they want. The people are never at the table but they sure are the ATM machine for these jerks. If you hear from your School Board, it is to tell you that you will have to pay $150 for them to answer one question and the city is as bad along with the County, state and on and on. The people are getting fed up as well they should but they certainly are going to have to do much more and start doing their jobs before we see any improvement. That’s my opinion.

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