Tit for tat.
Not a good way to live your life, or to run a government organization.
But that’s what it has come down to for area residents in the Gardner/ school district “feud.”
A dispute that should have been handled in a mature fashion by city and school staff has spilled over into an ugly mess, and at issue are thousands of dollars in taxpayers’ money.
At this point, it doesn’t matter who’s to blame, or if there is blame.
It’s just embarrassing to watch.
As the decade-long partnership between USD 231 and Gardner continues to unravel, it’s like the opening of Pandora’s box.
First, what has been tagged as “growing pains” by district officials ended the partnership for usage of school facilities for the city’s park and recreation program, and USD 231 began their own recreation programs.
It’s never been clear why the school board decided to expand their focus from educating kids to offering youth basketball rec programs, but it was done with little fanfare or public input.
The decision started an ugly chain reaction, spilling over to social media, live streams between board officials and council members, and the resignation of the city’s parks director.
It’s probably not over.
In return for reduced facility-usage fees, Gardner has for a long time provided a reduced electric rate to USD 231, as well as subsidizing the cost of crossing guards and school resource officers.
The special electric rate may change when members of the utility advisory council meet this week to determine the future of the district’s reduced electric rate and make a recommendation to the city council. At issue is about $276,000; money that could go towards finding facility rentals for city’s park’s programs, or put towards an increase in sewer fees Edgerton city council voted to pass on to Gardner. The sewer fees are adjusted annually based on a rate study which indicated sewer rates billed to Gardner are too low.
Whatever the outcome; residents need to watch their pocket books and settle back for a long and interesting ride.
The devil is in the details, and these “devils’” fingers have a long and stealthy reach.