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  #1  
Old 04/07/13, 12:49 PM
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Illinois
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School bond referendum

Tuesday there is an election that will decide if our school district is able to issue a school bond referendum. The district wants to build an addition and rework some space.

I know that this is a way for school districts to borrow money. In IL school tax rates are capped so school so that they cannot raise our property taxes. School districts often use bonds to get money to make school improvements. What I don't quite understand is if issuing bonds raises property taxes. I understand that bonds mean that the district will have debt to carry but do they also raise taxes?
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  #2  
Old 04/07/13, 02:07 PM
Alice In TX/MO's Avatar
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Most districts that I am familiar with in Texas have the right to raise taxes in small increments every year.

You need to read the bond info and see if it includes giving the board the right to raise taxes more than 'normally' to pay the bond back. The money has to come from somewhere... i.e. the taxpayers.

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  #3  
Old 04/07/13, 02:43 PM
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: IL
Posts: 305

I am in IL, and our school district has absolutely raised our property taxes. Their multiplier went up 1.1% last year, and will go up again this year.

They promised they would not when the last referendum passed (2006), but did so anyway the past 2 years because they overbuilt and could not service their bond debt. We had a number of school buildings newly built, yet sitting completely empty because while they had the bonding authority to borrow money to build them, our population stagnated and there was no budget available to staff them, nor enough students to justify opening them. One junior high school building (able to service 2200 students) sat empty for 5 years and just opened to students this school year (and there are only 800 students in attendance there).

So, without actually looking up the applicable law, yes there is a cap in IL, but it is quite high, and I believe it is a yearly cap, not a "forever" cap, and yes indeed the school district can raise your property tax because without question our School District Tax Multiplier right on our tax bill has increased, and will increase again this year. Because of this very issue I can assure you another referendum will not pass for our school district any time soon, maybe ever. Each promise that was made last time by the district was broken and our citizens aren't in any mood or financial position to allow that again. Our district, for the time being, is going to have to be flexible with their ideas and work with what they have. Miracle of miracles, though the district and administration HOWLED that the kids (some 11000 of them) would have to be 40 in a class, or have class in trailers, or sit on laps in the cafeteria, several years into the tough love, the kids are being educated just fine and the life of the district is going on. Low and behold when they REALLY had to, the district found the $ (by cutting the majority of the many redundant and obsolete "construction manager" positions, and their exponential benefit costs, among many other cuts) to operate just fine.

I would not vote again for another school district referendum in my lifetime without a clear, imminent, yet very tightly focused need, where every dollar being asked for was specifically allocated to a specific, beneficial project, and then only if that/those projects could be completed and benefiting students within 2 years.

HTH!

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  #4  
Old 04/07/13, 02:58 PM
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Most school districts in IL are already DEEP in debt.
Look at what Stockton, CA did to their bond holders

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  #5  
Old 04/07/13, 04:48 PM
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Illinois
Posts: 8,210
The problem is that the school really could use expansion and remodeling but I don't think it's worth a tax hike. Alice, in IL most school tax increases require a vote
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  #6  
Old 04/07/13, 05:07 PM
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
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Yes the whole point of the bond issue is to finance a project that they are raising money for, by providing funds that will pay it off at some point in the future, i.e. property taxes.

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  #7  
Old 04/07/13, 05:54 PM
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Posts: 1,387
Quote:
Originally Posted by katheh View Post
I am in IL, and our school district has absolutely raised our property taxes. Their multiplier went up 1.1% last year, and will go up again this year.

They promised they would not when the last referendum passed (2006), but did so anyway the past 2 years because they overbuilt and could not service their bond debt. We had a number of school buildings newly built, yet sitting completely empty because while they had the bonding authority to borrow money to build them, our population stagnated and there was no budget available to staff them, nor enough students to justify opening them. One junior high school building (able to service 2200 students) sat empty for 5 years and just opened to students this school year (and there are only 800 students in attendance there).

So, without actually looking up the applicable law, yes there is a cap in IL, but it is quite high, and I believe it is a yearly cap, not a "forever" cap, and yes indeed the school district can raise your property tax because without question our School District Tax Multiplier right on our tax bill has increased, and will increase again this year. Because of this very issue I can assure you another referendum will not pass for our school district any time soon, maybe ever. Each promise that was made last time by the district was broken and our citizens aren't in any mood or financial position to allow that again. Our district, for the time being, is going to have to be flexible with their ideas and work with what they have. Miracle of miracles, though the district and administration HOWLED that the kids (some 11000 of them) would have to be 40 in a class, or have class in trailers, or sit on laps in the cafeteria, several years into the tough love, the kids are being educated just fine and the life of the district is going on. Low and behold when they REALLY had to, the district found the $ (by cutting the majority of the many redundant and obsolete "construction manager" positions, and their exponential benefit costs, among many other cuts) to operate just fine.

I would not vote again for another school district referendum in my lifetime without a clear, imminent, yet very tightly focused need, where every dollar being asked for was specifically allocated to a specific, beneficial project, and then only if that/those projects could be completed and benefiting students within 2 years.

HTH!

What is the ''construction managers'' in the school system??? I have lived in Illinois for nearly 65 years and do not have a clue what you are talking about!
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  #8  
Old 04/07/13, 07:47 PM
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 4,910
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joshie View Post
Tuesday there is an election that will decide if our school district is able to issue a school bond referendum. The district wants to build an addition and rework some space.

What I don't quite understand is if issuing bonds raises property taxes. I understand that bonds mean that the district will have debt to carry but do they also raise taxes?
Well, for them to be asking to be allowed to get the bonds means that the money will need to be paid back at some time. NO ONE issues bonds for free - the school district will be paying some kind of interest rate on those bonds. Most bonds are either 20 year or 30 year bonds which means for once the bond is issued, the school district will be paying decades to get them paid off.

If it is truly to educate the kids - buildings that contribute to learning, then it can be worth it. However, school districts are notorious for wasting money.

Has the number of students in your school district increased or decreased?
If the number of students has decreased over the years, has the number of teachers and administrators also decreased? If not, why?
If the number of students has decreased over the years, has transportation for the students been updated?
Are administration salaries and teacher salaries given out freely?

Have you talked to any of the teachers, secretaries, or teacher aides that work for the district? Are they in agreement that this needs to be done?

Has the school district looked recently for ways to cut expenses?
(Many times, school districts just keep raising taxes because that's the easy thing to do.)
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  #9  
Old 04/10/13, 11:52 AM
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 1,034

I was wondering how your referendum came out. I have been an election judge in Illinois about 35 years, normally these local elections are sleepers, but yesterday our county had a school referendum and a library one and there was some voter interest. Both were defeated.

I don't live in the school district, altho I own property there, and it was where i attended, so I was very concerned. It's a pretty good sized district, lots of pride and not a lot of decline in population now or probably in the future. Of course, the proponets were raising the threat of consolidation...scare tactics...and there was a good voter turnout.

I have been listening to podcasts from the Lincoln Library, a project dealing with rural school districts in Illinois. http://www2.illinois.gov/alplm/libra...s/default.aspx

These are very interesting, and I suggest them. Several of the schools are in my area, within 50 or so miles. One of them talks of school experiences of the 50's closing the one rooms etc, this was especially interesting to me. Others talk of farm economy, small towns, academics, much more than consolidation issues. Several times I heard the quote, The hardest animal there is to kill is the school mascot. Transportation is a huge issue and it is one of the things not being funded well.

The rural project also has another series with farmers of all ages and descriptions that is interesting. I have not listened to too many of them because I have been listening to the school ones, but I will be doing so later.

Would like to know how things went for your district.

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  #10  
Old 04/10/13, 12:12 PM
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The I moved to my place, there was one school bond- now there are four. For one thing, those bonds are not tax deductible as property taxes.
Then the real biggie is- the schools got the money, spent it to do things like building a portico or adding a gym or making a new parking lot. And then they closed the school.
None of these monies go to actual education or things the kids use. It is resricted to building- so build they did, even though our school population has been dropping for 10 years and they are closing schools.
I hate bonds because they really never disappear, while the buildings are still not maintained. What schools need is a budget that plans for new construction and maintanence. What bonds do is give a hurry and spend it on wish lists before it disappears attitude.
Whenever money is actually increased, it seems to go for perks that create endless liability so you can expect to be dunned for more and more.

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  #11  
Old 04/10/13, 12:32 PM
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 3,407
Quote:
Originally Posted by where I want to View Post
The I moved to my place, there was one school bond- now there are four. For one thing, those bonds are not tax deductible as property taxes.
Then the real biggie is- the schools got the money, spent it to do things like building a portico or adding a gym or making a new parking lot. And then they closed the school.
None of these monies go to actual education or things the kids use. It is resricted to building- so build they did, even though our school population has been dropping for 10 years and they are closing schools.
I hate bonds because they really never disappear, while the buildings are still not maintained. What schools need is a budget that plans for new construction and maintanence. What bonds do is give a hurry and spend it on wish lists before it disappears attitude.
Whenever money is actually increased, it seems to go for perks that create endless liability so you can expect to be dunned for more and more.

I'll agree that rational budgeting for future expenses makes great sense. The problem comes in that it would require tax levels higher than necessary for day to day operations. This would lead to a fund that politicians would have difficulty keeping their hands out of it. If you could somehow keep the money from being spent prematurely you would soon see voter discontent by those who feel overtaxed and only see a big pile of unspent money. We are our own worst enemy.
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  #12  
Old 04/10/13, 06:11 PM
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 1,034

I think some surveys are just a waste of money, but this one makes sense. Survey the school district for the average age of the residents. If there is a trend to middle age, and seniors, and fewer young families are moving to town, that means a decreased enrollment in a few years. It also predicts the possible tax burden for an aging population. I agree a lot of money is spent on dumb things.

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  #13  
Old 04/10/13, 08:40 PM
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Illinois
Posts: 8,210
The bond referendum failed by 17 votes. Forty-nine percent voted for the bond while 51% voted against it. We live in a great district. It is one of the only districts to have an agricultural program. They have a strong FFA and home ec programs, both of which are unusual around here.

The district is rather poor and rural. There is one grade school and one high school. The buildings seem well maintained. It would be nice if schools would save up for improvements and future buildings. I think that's difficult in today's age. Although I have seen no animosity between teachers and the school board, IL teachers' unions are notorious for demanding salary raises if a district has any surplus at all.

I remember when a nearby district had a small reserve. The union struck for raises even though it was well known that the small surplus would be gone within a year. They got their raise at the cost of multiple layoffs a couple years later. Throwing money at schools is not the answer. Increasing a school's budget doesn't give you better schools. The private schools in town spend a whole lot less per student than that city's school district. The private school building is nice, student /teacher ratios are better, and their test scores are tons better.
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