School bond measure too much of a financial burden
I commend the efforts and good intentions of the Long Range Facilities Planning Committee re: School Bond Measure 1-88, but I cannot support their recommendations. $48 million is an unnecessarily heavy burden to place squarely and solely on the shoulders of property owners.
Recent letters suggest that by sacrificing less than two dollars a day, property owners can easily cover this proposed increase in their taxes. Left unsaid is that this amount would have to be set aside every single day without fail for the next 30 years. Many home-owning families in our town must already budget creatively just to cover the basics, as the cost of those basics continue to rise: groceries, heat, electricity, gasoline, clothing, medical costs, insurance, etc. Thirty years of an additional tax that is non-negotiable, non-modifiable, and — if passed — mandatory, is not a good solution.
Baker City property taxes already include assessments specifically for education, comprising nearly 30 percent of the total tax bill (School District 5-J, Intermountain ESD, and BMCC).
The 1946 School Construction Bond cited in School District fliers as justification for building new schools now, took more than two generations of taxpayers to pay down. Surely modification to already existing, structurally viable schools would be far less expensive than constructing anew, then hoping that vacated school property could be used for “other purposes.”
School District fliers identify multiple areas of concern which came under review. Measure 1-88 seeks to solve all of these at once. Can’t we address some of these elements separately, in a prioritized manner, without the $48 million price tag?
Those who are pushing “Vote Yes For the Kids” with Measure 1-88 seem to imply a No vote is a vote against our kids. This is hardly the case. My No vote urges fiscal responsibility and creative problem-solving, without the burden of an additional $48 million tax.
Baker City has always been a leader in finding innovative solutions and forging broad partnerships to get things done. Let’s do it again. Measure 1-88 is not the answer.
School bond highlights unfairness of tax structure
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against supporting children’s educations, but I think everyone should contribute evenly. The current method only taxes landowners to support schools. People who rent homes can have a dozen children and they don’t pay anything in the way of real estate taxes for their children to attend Baker County schools. I know that there is going to be those who claim the landlord charges the tenant the taxes in the rent structure, but that is not true in most cases. I currently pay over $3,000 in property taxes within 5J School District; if my same house and property were in the Pine-Eagle District my taxes would be less than $1,500.
Now 5J wants the voters to pass a 30-year bond of up to $48 million for upgrades and a new school for a community has had a decreasing student enrollment for several years. 5J’s tax rate is already within 95 cents per thousand dollars of the maximum allowable in Oregon. Now take an average $160,000 house in Baker City with taxes of $2,700 per year. With no additional taxes other than the 3 percent-per-year increase of Measure 5 and the quoted $1.97 per thousand for 30 years for the school bond, this house’s taxes in 30 years will be over $5,000 per year. I guess I would have to ask why 5J is driving all over their district in 40-foot buses with one child on it, if they have any idea of the value of money.
Think about this — in the same 30 years Social Security will probably no longer exist, maybe DSHS will start paying property taxes for those who no longer can afford them.