By Wayne William Cipriano
I was confused about the 20¢ per $100 valuation increase in our property taxes requested by the School Board to finance some school improvements. I attended the school board meeting on March 18, 2014, to ask about it. Our school board encourages public input and questions, and sets aside time for that at the beginning of each meeting.
I asked the following question:
Is this a bond issued by the District to pay for the listed improvements, and when the bond is paid off our property taxes will return to the previous level … or …
Is this a permanent tax increase that will finance this bond repayment service and when the bond is retired our property taxes will remain at the increased level in the future bringing in more funds to be spent as the school board sees fit?
The president of the school board and the superintendent explained that the law requires this financing to be in the form of a bond issue. The amount will be $3,200,000. The interest rate on the bond will be negotiated if and when we give the school board permission to borrow the money. The payback period will be about 20 years depending on property assessments – if more property comes on the tax rolls and assessments go up the bond will be paid off more quickly – if assessments go down, it will take longer to retire the bond.
So, for every $500 worth of property (at the assessed level) we own, our property taxes will go up $1 per year for about 20 years. When the bond is paid off the increase will disappear unless we give our permission for it to continue in another election at that time.
When you read the ballot you will see a list of things that $3,200,000 will buy. Some of them – like magnetic door locks, closed circuit television cameras and fenced-in school buildings are, in my opinion, a hysterical over-reaction to the school tragedies we have seen and read about. Others, like building repairs, an early childhood center and library addition are, in my opinion, very good ideas.
Every one of us will share the cost directly (if we own a car or a house or a farm, etc.) or indirectly (when we do business with a property owner, rent a house, etc.). Every one of us will share the benefits directly (if we have kids in school) or indirectly (by living in a more educated community). It is the right, the privilege, the duty of each of us to decide if these benefits justify these costs.
Voting on this issue will be on Tuesday, April 8, 2014, from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Douglas County Library in Ava or in the basement of the Ava Community Center, just off the square in Ava. Karry Davis is the most helpful and competent county clerk I have ever met. She will happily answer any question you can possibly ask her about voting. Her office telephone number is 683-4714, and I will bet you cannot stump her!
It is your school district. It is your county. It is your money. Let your voice be heard.