Written by Beth Hull, Co-Chair, Citizens For the Children’s Future Committee
Maybe you’ve seen in local print, internet and television, and in civic or social group meetings, the District 7 drumbeat of how this referendum is going to help our community and in particular our lower income families and children.
NOTHING could be further from the truth.
“But won’t this help low income families and children?”
NOT TRUE! Property taxes of this type hit lower income and fixed income populations the hardest. Higher taxes and prices within the community with no corresponding increase in income places a much greater financial burden on lower income families. This referendum does nothing to help lower income children, and in fact, it hurts them.
We’ve heard from many well-meaning individuals that they want to do something to help lower income families in particular. Don’t be fooled into believing that this is the answer. It is not.
Take a hard look at this referendum. Follow the money. It’s not about education, it’s about construction. If you truly want to help our community and provide our children a better education and a better future, don’t saddle them and their families with generations of enormous debt.
Education is driven by teachers who are willing to teach and students who are willing to learn; NOT by a big shiny clock tower, expensive brick work, a fancy new football stadium and overpriced offices for District 7 Administrators.
“But I don’t own a house, I’m a renter. So doesn’t that mean I won’t have to worry about this tax increase?”
If you rent, and your landlord is hit with a huge tax increase, they will raise rents or cut other expenses. We have met several rental property owners, and every single one of them has indicated they will be forced to react to increased property taxes, not out of mean spirits, but as a means of the survival of their business.
Losing money due to increased taxes means difficult choices for the property owner, and none of us have yet met a landlord that plans on just losing money. They will pass on the tax increase to his/her renters.
“But my housing expenses are not that high, so I am not bothered by a small increase. Why should this bother me?”
If you own a car, truck, motorcycle, RV, other land, anything that gets a property tax notice, your taxes will go up. This is according to the information provided by District 7, not simply our opinion. This bond impacts MUCH more than housing expenses.
“But I was told in a meeting by a well-known District 7 representative that the businesses in District 7 are worth far more than the total value of the homes and cars. Doesn’t that mean that the businesses will pay most of this, and I won’t have to pay as much?”
District 7 is not telling the entire story. There are DIRECT costs (meaning, the actual dollar amount on your tax bill), and there are INDIRECT costs. When EVERY business in the district is suddenly hit with a much higher tax bill that continues year after year for decades, your living expenses are going up.
We have heard from many residents of District 7 who attended this or that group meeting recently who were directly told by a representative of District 7 that they “won’t have to worry as much” if they didn’t own a business. That is complete nonsense.
Do you really believe that businesses will take a huge financial hit and not pass it on to the consumer? Many local business owners are wonderful, generous, kind souls who truly love their employees and customers like family, but those businesses still have to survive. When their taxes go up, their prices go up. They don’t just shrug off higher taxes as their loss and watch their revenues decline, or wait to slowly go out of business. YOU WILL PAY for this tax increase in many ways, in many parts of your life, which you may not even realize now.
“But what if the business won’t or can’t raise prices, then does that mean I don’t have to worry about it?”
Businesses take many things into account, not just the price they have to charge for their products and services. Businesses which have increased taxes, and cannot or will not raise prices, may choose to relocate or reduce other expenses instead – remove lower-profit items or services, cut staff, cut wages, cut benefits, refuse to pay raises and bonuses, etc. Higher taxes mean reduced choice for customers, the loss of a local business, and/or worsened possibilities for the employees.
We have not yet met an employer who, given all the possibilities, simply decides that he/she will change nothing and just make less money and watch their hard-earned business decline. We have met many business owners who are worried about this and do not want to make these drastic and unpleasant decisions, but they have their own families to feed, and increased costs of any kind will be met with higher prices to preserve their livelihood.
“But I am on government assistance, and I don’t receive a property tax bill, doesn’t that mean that I won’t have to pay more?”
No, you WILL pay more. Again, keep in mind the difference between DIRECT costs (if you don’t get a tax bill, then there’s no number to change), and INDIRECT costs (your family and friend’s experiences, and your interaction with local businesses).
Unless you are completely cut off from the outside world, and have no friends or family in District 7, you will see negative consequences as a result of increased taxes. And all for a school we don’t need.
Reduced choices, closed businesses, less opportunity, and negative outcomes for employees are likely only the beginning of the ways in which our community, especially low income households, will experience negative repercussions.