Just how much is $108.8 million? Part 1
By now, most of us know the total dollar amount of the high school referendum is $108.8 million. Our school district tosses the quantity of a million dollars around like it was small change. But how many of us really know how much $108.8 million is?
I am going to write it out: $108,800,000.00
When I was in high school, my friends and I were awestruck when we found out one girl in our circle had a millionaire dad! Even in Shorewood, that was uncommon. These days, more people are millionaires than ever before. Today it is not unusual for the fair market value of homes in the Elmbrook School District to be over a half a million dollars. Does that mean they have lots of money to spare?
Recently, I believe I heard a radio a commercial that said if you had more than $500,000 in investments, you were among the top 5% of investors in the country. That seemed hard to believe. I tried to find out more about that statistic, but I found this instead:
In 2006, personal savings rates were at negative 1 percent, their lowest in 70 years, according to a Commerce Department report. “The last time the rate was negative was during the Great Depression. This means people are not only spending everything they make but also are dipping into savings or borrowing money (or refinancing their homes). In 2006, personal income increased by 0.5 percent, while spending increased by 0.7 percent.”
Then I found: More than 40% of all women had less than $500 in the bank. For those 25 to 34 years old, the percentage without a rainy day fund jumped to 55%.
Those statistics sounded pretty grim. Surely the Elmbrook School District would fare better in the savings department? I checked the ESRI report Zip 53005 and ESRI report Zip 53045.
Splitting the difference between east and west sides of our city, the median Brookfield household income in 2006 was about $90,500. We are above the median Wisconsin income by about $48,500. (The average household income in Brookfield is about $115,000--because of some wealthier residents above the $2 million/year range.) Our community must be chock full of good savers!
Maybe not? I did not find Brookfield or Elm Grove on the A.G. Edwards 2006 Nest Egg Index—a list of the 500 top-saving communities across the country.
Appleton ranked the highest in our state at 16, Milwaukee/Waukesha/West Allis ranked 98th and tiny college town, Menomonie ranked 298th. There could be many reasons for this, possibly we make other kinds of investments, but to think West Allis or Menomonie out-saved us?
Clearly, 1 million dollars is still a respectable amount of money! When our school district asks us to give them an additional $108.8 million of them, I take that request seriously.
If the average homeowner has to pay Elmbrook an additional $342* a year, that is $342 that won’t be going into a college fund or retirement savings or rainy day funds. Since the average credit card debt is $8,000 per household, it seems most households could find something better to do with $342 than give it to the school district. We already give them more than 50% of our property tax bill.
Stay tuned for part 2
*More about the actual dollar amount in a future blog.
LINKS: Betterbrookfield, Brookfieldnow, Practically Speaking