Public Forum

Here are the true costs of referendum

To the editor:

This letter is in regard to the upcoming school board referendum and its tax implications. According to pamphlets received in the mail and from information on the bond referendum webpage, the “tax impact” for a $150,000 house is being touted as only $123 per year if both questions pass. Given this information, a person would assume that if you multiply $123 by 20 (years of the bond), then the total amount the owner of a $150,000 house would pay in taxes for this referendum would be $2,460.

However, after contacting the school district office and then Elhers (the financial advisers for the school district), it is clear that the total cost to the taxpayer of said house is much more than this. This chart, which was emailed to me from Ehlers, shows the true cost of the referendum each year. Note that for the owner of the $150,000 house, the first is only $123, but this amount then increases until it reaches $290 per year on year 10, a level it maintains the next 10 years of the bond. Adding up the Proposed New Debt column for the whole 20 years of the bond gives you a total of $4,517, not $2,460. This would average approximately $226 per year in tax payment toward this referendum — a number 83.5 percent higher than the $123 per year advertised by the school district as the “tax impact.”

Using this information, (See chart at right) you should be able to more accurately determine what your actual cost for this referendum will be. Take, for example, a small family farm of 300 acres of non-homesteaded land valued at $7,000 per acre. The school district’s website says this referendum will cost you $6.80 per acre per year. If the true approximation is actually 83.5 percent more (as determined above), then you will actually owe $12.48 per acre per year. Taking this $12.48 times 300 acres times 20 years, gives you a total estimated cost of $74,880. This means the owner of 300 acres non-homesteaded land can expect to pay almost $75,000 toward just this referendum if it passes.

I, for one, think the district needs to be more transparent about how much this referendum will cost taxpayers. Voters deserve to know the whole story and the “whole” of this story is 83.5 percent more than you have been led to believe.

I know that April 18 can be an inconvenient time for many in this community to vote, especially those of us who farm, so I encourage those who don’t know if they can make it to vote on April 18 to call in and vote early. To vote early, you can go to the school district office located at 401 S. Saratoga St. or you can call 537-6924 and have your application and ballot sent by mail. Early voting began on March 3.

Glen Deutz