To the Editor:
Decision time is here.
Will property taxes go up or down? Will you sign "yes" or "no" to the school bond issue?
I learned a lot while I was running for school board, and one thing became crystal clear -- the proposed school security systems have nothing to do with the bond issue.
According to the superintendent's numbers, they can install the security doors, etc., in all the schools for about $240,000. That is less than one-tenth of the current annual budget for capital projects. I have no doubt that the security systems will go in whether we vote yes or no on the remodeling.
The superintendent is fond of telling us that the bond issue will not make property taxes go up. But the old loans for Northview, Clay City High School, etc., will be paid off next year. If we don't borrow more money, our taxes will go down. Another thing that has not gotten much publicity is that the money to "service" (payoff) a loan is not included in the 1 percent cap. All of the loan would be paid off with property taxes.
When you throw into the equation the fact that in 2010, the state will quit "paying" 30 percent of our property tax, it all gets very muddied.
But the bottom line is that everyone's property tax rate, whether it is $1 or $2 or $3 -- will be 40 cents (0.4 percent) higher than it would have been without the school loan.
What is borrowed must be paid back. The bond issue will cost us more than $3 million each year.
Now, the rest of this letter is just my impressions. I was able to tour Meridian and East Side and I talked to a lot of teachers.
It looked to me that those two schools are pleasant and well maintained. The teachers working in the Staunton annex and the East Side mobile classroom were positive about the current facilities.
Personally, I think it would be prudent to put off doing anything big for a while.
But it's not up to me.
It's up to you.