Dear Decaturish – Vote ‘yes’ on school tax breaksFILE PHOTO USED FOR ILLUSTRATION PURPOSES: The Active Adult classes at the Decatur Recreation Center. Photo from Be Active Decatur
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▪ Vote YES for the school tax exemptions
▪ At issue is not providing tax benefits to a group of people.
▪ The issue is how to provide a sustainable education system.
▪ Apartments, condominiums and houses cannot be built fast enough for families wanting a great
education for their children. Two bedroom units are housing a family of 4 just to get into the system.
▪ People without school-age children are leaving our city.
▪ The ratio of homes without school-age children compared to homes with school-age children is falling.
▪ The results are a school budget and related taxes escalating with no hope of balance
▪ We need to balance our education tax base.
▪This is only one step in the process. Other sources must be used to balance the tax load and I am prepared to offer them, but they are useless if we do not control the budget explosion.
It takes more than 2 ½ homes to provide the taxes to support one house with school-age children. Education is not free and it requires a lot of support. It is precisely this formula that causes Decatur’s problem. Our school taxes have risen to a tipping point where families without children are leaving due to the high cost. We see it all around us. A house with no school-age children sells to a family with school-age children. On my own street , I have observed eight houses without children sold. Six were bought by families with children. The turnover meant that we have to find 15 more houses to support the new families or raise the taxes to cover the cost. Yes, it is that simple. We want the children and we want to pay for their education, but we need a balance of homes to sustain it.
The exemption helps to keep that first family from selling. The impact reaches far beyond taxpayers that are 65 or over. Taxpayers who are 50 , 55 or 60 have a reason to “gut it out” and stay knowing that they will get relief. How many times have your neighbors graduated their children and moved to avoid the high taxes?
We still need help for the families that will be paying the tax shortfall. In fact, they cannot be expected to do so by themselves and that is why we need to add additional revenues to our system and I will be proposing some possibilities. But without first slowing the escalating exit those remedies will be short lived and we will have to continually raise out taxes. Our education budget is not stagnant. Even with a stable student population, the cost continues to rise as will our taxes. When you add the effect of the changing the balance of homes, we are taxing ourselves out of the education business.
Please take the considered, sustainable approach. Take the first step toward long term sustainability and vote YES.
– Spencer Hostetter