From Cuyahoga County's 20-year "sin tax" extension to Aurora schools' renewal levy, the myth is out -- "it's not a tax increase."

I would like to challenge the conventional wisdom on this topic. In fact, the Aurora school district received a windfall of almost $600,000 from the state just a few years ago when funding equations changed. But you won't hear about that excess now. You also won't hear that enrollment has stagnated, requiring comparatively less resource costs.

What you will hear is funding levels need to be maintained. Can't the $600,000 windfall be used instead of renewal money? We're led to believe not to rock the boat when it comes to the schools. I have no issues with the educators in Aurora, but I do take issue with maintaining funding levels in a district with fewer students than a few years ago.

And what about the retirement package that enables perfectly fine teachers and administrators to retire early with outstanding benefits fully 10 to 15 years before most other private sector workers can even collect their pensions? This is robbery!

Renewals fund this continuing hemorrhage of money and worse, support the status quo of a rigged compensation system. Schools already capture over 80 percent of our property taxes. Is this not excessive?

Now let's consider the 0.5-mill levy requested by the Portage County Park District. Personally I love parks. But of the 15 Portage County parks the levy funds, seven of them are not open freely to the public, but rather "for guided hikes only."

So, will the levy truly support increased public access to green space or will it maintain private hiking excursions only? I don't know the answer. But I challenge voters to examine all sides of issues carefully before backing them with their hard earned money.

Gary Henrich, Aurora