Guest Posting: Funny Math, an answer to What kind of smoke and mirrors is this?
There's some funny math going on in Molly Steffen's recent blog. She purports that for the hypothetical $ 335,000 home, the referendum will cost the homeowner only $191.Here is the address to the Elmbrook School District website referendum cost calculator: (UPDATE: This link is no longer working, maybe the district got the message?)
I plugged in the $335,000 figure and see that the first year increase is $191. That's because the school board decided to prepay some debt in this year's budget, to reduce the initial cost. THE ACTUAL COST INCREASE FOR THE PROPOSED REFERENDUM ALONE is $ 308.20! That will be an increase PAYABLE FOR 20 YEARS. Also remember that the board already approved the expensive 4 year old daycare, which will also bump up your school tax on top of the usual spending increases and referendum costs.
What the board did was essentially prepay our mortgage. Funny, I don't recall voting to allow debt to be repaid early when approving the last referendum. What would stop the board from deciding to prepay the entire $ 100 million early? They put out calculators to "help" you decide the whether you can afford their spending, but all bets are off as to whether they abide by the scenarios. If saving interest costs were their primary concern, THEY WOULD HAVE SAVED UP FOR RENOVATIONS, AND MAINTAINED THE BUILDINGS THEY HAVE!
Since assessments rise with time, your personal cost will also be impacted by future increases in your assessment. The lower priced homes in Brookfield are increasing in market value at a greater pace than higher priced homes. There is a greater pool of buyers for $ 300,000 homes than for million dollar homes. So the residents of those homes, including many retirees, seniors, people on average or fixed incomes, will pay more than just the static amount represented in the district's table, conceivably much more. What will you be paying in 10 years if your $ 335,000 home is assessed at $ 500,000?
The real truth is that the school district assumes that retired, senior and other less affluent residents will meekly sell their homes and get out of Dodge. What if we want to stay? Too bad.
Funny math allows manipulation of statistics to support specific points of view. Be sure you know the FACTS as they apply to your situation. Don't take my word for it and don't take Molly Steffan's word.
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LINKS: Betterbrookfield, Brookfieldnow, Practically Speaking