The Healthy Neighborhood Initiative recently granted $20,500 of taxpayer funds to the following tax-exempt organizations: $2,500 to Sugar Creek Elementary School bike program; $8,000 to the Verona Area High School college-prep program and $10,000 to Chapel Valley Church for social gatherings.

These grants misuse city taxes and penalize taxpayers.

Government units with the power to tax should not have the power to donate taxes to tax-exempt organizations. Especially, taxes from one government unit should not be donated to another government taxing unit without the consent of those paying the taxes.

Fitchburg has three school districts that each tax their residents. Any decision to grant city of Fitchburg taxes to any one of these taxing school districts unfairly forces City of Fitchburg taxpayers in the other two school districts to fund programs in the third, without representation.

None of the Sugar Creek attendance area is in Fitchburg. Yet, Fitchburg taxpayers are funding a program to teach Verona kids to ride a bike. That is the job of Verona parents, not Fitchburg taxpayers. Without their consent, Fitchburg residents taxed by Oregon and Madison School Districts are being forced to help pay for the Sugar Creek bike program with taxes paid to Fitchburg.

These same residents in the Oregon and Madison School Districts have not consented to use Fitchburg taxes to help fund the $8,000 grant for the college-prep program for Verona students. Taxes paid to the three Fitchburg school districts are already supposed to be used to adequately prepare students who want to go to college.

The 1st Amendment principle of “separation of church and state” has already been eroded beyond recognition. We still think the $10,000 grant to Chapel Valley Church violates this principle.

A likely consequence of Chapel Valley Church spending the $10,000 grant to organize and manage four social gatherings will be an increase in new members for Chapel Valley Church. Without the consent of Fitchburg taxpayers, City of Fitchburg taxes will be used to potentially increase the membership of the Chapel Valley Church. This is “promotion of church by state.”

Dave and Nancy Halford

City of Fitchburg