Community needs to be financially responsible

To the editor:

I’ve been reading the letters to the editor regarding the upcoming school referendum. Those in favor are telling us to “vote yes for our kids” and to “vote yes for our community.”

In my opinion, having a community that is affordable to live in is what will better our children and our community. Raising the existing high tax is certain to be unwelcoming to new potential business. A community needs to be financially responsible for our schools and businesses to thrive.

I own a modest business in town. This referendum, if it passes follows right on the heels of a 40 percent tax hike which my commercial property experienced from 2016 to 2017. This 40 percent tax increase occurred although no building or land improvements were made to the property. If this has happened to me, other businesses in Marshall are experiencing this as well. My commercial taxes jumped from $6,146 in 2016 to $8,578 in 2017. If the referendum passes my taxes will increase by another $490 annually assuming no additional tax is added in the next 10 years. I would be a foolish business owner not to factor these new costs into my future business pricing. What should I tell my customers who question such price increase, “It’s for the kids?” Company employees do not have additional tax placed on their 401k or their personal investments, so why should business owners have to pay a tax on their investment that stimulates the local economy? This tax is in addition to the tax on their home if they live in the Marshall school district. Taxing your community in this way removes motivation for new and existing business growth and is hurting existing businesses. This is profiling against businesses that require capital such as buildings and land. I also empathize with the farming community as they are not able to control commodity prices which are currently at a 10-year low.

Recent articles in The Independent have stated student population is projected to grow. Growth may occur, but student population is not guaranteed to remain high. This has happened in our community in the past with employment fluctuation. Raising taxes for businesses forces outsourcing of jobs, cutting benefits, layoffs, etc. This is happening with Schwan’s technical support team right now (see April 8 Marshall Independent)!

I attended Marshall’s schools. My wife and I raised our two daughters in the Marshall school district and I now have two young grandchildren who are being raised here. It is important that our children be safe and comfortable in our schools. I acknowledge the need for space and security. The teachers and staff are doing a great job of utilizing available space, but please continue to improvise. There are alternatives that do not cost $40 million. Debt in the Marshall school district has quadrupled since 2000 and we are currently paying close to $2 million in interest alone. Money does not grow on trees and all good things must come with time.

On April 18 please vote NO to a tax assault on local property owners. This is not necessarily a no vote to our children. There is no doubt a need in our school district, but it does not justify threatened financial ruin for businesses who invest in this community every day.

Matt Steen