By Eric Boone
My wife and I are 13 year residents of Saint Michael. We started our family in this wonderful city and have two elementary aged children. Many of you may know me from my long-time involvement with the Republican Party of Wright County and have seen me convening the Saint Michael P1-B precinct caucus the last several election cycles.
When we moved here, one significant factor in choosing Saint Michael was the low local property taxes. Saint Michael had both lower taxes and more affordable homes than places like Maple Grove and Rogers. However, over these 13 years, we have seen the taxes repeatedly go up.
We are now being asked to raise our school taxes once again, but this time we are being fed half-truths by the supporters that hide the true cost of this bond referendum. You keep hearing it’s only $45 per year for a $200,000 home, but this is just for the initial interest only payments. To maintain this supposed $45 cost over the life of the bond, supporters of this levy are subtracting the future reduction in other debt payments from the cost of this bond. However, the true cost is simply the sum of the taxes we would pay with the bond minus the taxes we would pay without this bond.
Since the school district hasn’t provided this full tax impact information, I have made a good faith effort to estimate the true cost in the table below by assuming each homeowner’s portion will change by the same ratio as the debt payments for this bond. This may be off by a few dollars one way or the other, but should be close. As you can see, it’s low for the first nine years, but skyrockets for the last five. On average, costs could rise to about $129 per year for a $200,000 home and $206 for a $300,000 home. This would be almost triple what you keep hearing from the school district and supporters of the referendum.
(Editor’s Note: This calculation and table does not account for future growth of the district’s residential or commercial tax base and any impact it would have on paying back the bond levy. The table is calculated with the current district population in mind. Commercial growth could also impact the state aid portion of the formula.)
|Year||Adj. Debt Levy Payments||Est. for $200k Home||Est. for $300k Home|
The high $36.1 million cost of the proposed facilities is only made worse by the six years of interest only payments. If the district waited until the other debts were paid off, we wouldn’t be wasting $7.7 million dollars in interest. Instead of paying $15.5 million in interest, we would only pay $7.8 million in interest. This is fiscally foolish, especially when 60 percent of the cost of this levy is for expensive sports facilities, not educational, safety, or technology upgrades. If you can’t make principle payments, you can’t afford it.
I do agree that there are some true educational, safety, and technology upgrade needs in this bond referendum, but we should be able to vote on these needs separate from the sports wants. They are holding a few true education needs hostage to get more sports facilities. Don’t fall for it.
Tell the school board NO. Tell them to come back in the November elections with a bond levy for just the few true needs. The wants can wait until our other debts are paid down.