OPINION: Here’s why you should vote ‘NO’ on the D91 school bond
EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is an editorial column submitted to EastIdahoNews.com by D91 Taxpayers – an advocacy group in opposition to the $110 million school bond proposed by Idaho Falls School District 91. Click here to read the editorial submitted by those in favor of the bond.
Click here to read a comprehensive report on the issue by EastIdahoNews.com.
From D91 Taxpayers
On November 7th, we urge a NO Vote to the massive $110 million District 91 school bond. The bond is flawed on many levels and we all deserve a better choice.
Most patrons, including many of us opposed to this bad proposal, do feel we need to upgrade our schools, but let’s upgrade them smart and cost effectively. Let’s not burden our children and our community with 20 years of excessive debt, unwisely incurred.
Some of the concerns about this bad bond include:
1. The process the district used to get this bond is known as a NO BID buying model. Firms were asked to submit their qualifications without pricing. Awards were then made to the bond company, the architect and the general contractor – all before any pricing was discussed. How much could be saved if bids were solicited before an award was made? We believe Idaho Falls and Skyline High could be updated for a fraction of the cost of what the selected NO BID firm now claims.
2. Both sides agree taxes have to go up! The district’s own chart shows collected taxes have to go from $13.8 million to $20.1 million to pay for this proposal. The debate is whether the district’s “no rate increase” promise for the next 20 years is believable. Even if their fancifully optimistic numbers pan out and the levy rate stays even, taxes will go up because the numbers require that the county will raise your property valuation. Taxes go up when the levy rate goes up, the valuation on your home goes up, or both. Since new construction has historically contributed to just 1.5% annually to market growth, the district needs your valuation – and hence your tax bill – to grow so they have enough new money. Again, their charts show they have to raise collections 46%, even if they keep their levy rate the same.
3. This bond hurts children that live in the working class neighborhoods close to the school. These families chose to live near the school where their children can walk to after-school activities, sports, and educational opportunities. Building a new school miles south punishes the lower income children and their families who might not have an extra vehicle, or a vehicle at all. They may not be able to participate in after school events. While some students on the south side have bus rides now, those families moved to where they did knowing they had said bus rides. Let’s protect the families around the school and further north.
4. This bond hurts us all by increasing taxpayer indebtedness, going from a current debt of $40 million to a whooping total new debt of over $183 million total when you add interest. This is 20 year of new taxes. Children that are in 1st grade now will be paying for this for 8 years after graduation, either passed on in increased rents or through higher taxes when they buy their first home. This is 20 year of new taxes.
5. It is questionable if Idaho Falls High even needs to be replaced. After all, the district has announced that it intends to continue to put up to 600 students in the building every day for technical classes without doing a major remodel. The district also plans to relocated offices without a remodel as well. WiFi and power are inexpensive to put in and classic schools are very popular. Many high schools nation wide were built in the early 1900s and are centerpieces of their neighborhoods.
This bond is to build some of the fanciest and most expensive buildings in the state. It is wasteful and teaches our children to spend foolishly. Yes, we all went to schools paid for by taxpayers, but we didn’t go to school to be in elaborate buildings, we went to be educated!
We urge our fellow District 91 taxpayers to reject this proposal and demand better. Demand a bond where bids are gathered first, cost effective solutions are weighed, and taxpayers won’t have a 46% tax increase. This bond proposal is not good for our children, families, or community. We deserve better.