Vote ‘No’ on the new school board debt proposal

The Lake Orion school board has proposed adding $160,000,000 in new debt over the next ten years. Most residents received a slick flyer in the mail telling them this will not increase our tax rate, which is misleading at best.

The flyer is designed to make us think we are getting something for nothing. No new tax rate sounds benign. This is a new tax with the same rate (payment) as the old tax for more years. If your home has an assessed value of $150,000, this bond will add over $10,000 to your tax bills for the ten-year period as proposed.

Our prior debt commitment is scheduled to end and taxes return to a normalized, non-debt loaded rate based on past promises. This is bad debt. Borrowing from our future to prop up a standard today that is subjective and not required to support the needs of our community is financially irresponsible.

The projects outlined in the school board spending plan are discretionary. Nothing in this list is critical to provide a quality education to the students of Lake Orion. The board cites safety, technology and efficiency as primary drivers for the proposed spending. Any facilities professional will tell you these things are constantly moving targets and you could easily spend yourself into bankruptcy chasing upgrades.

The school board spent several hundred thousand dollars on Blanche Sims Elementary parking/bus drop area last year and now proposes to tear down this school and build a new one. When questioned, the superintendent stated it had to be done for safety. This shows poor stewardship of taxpayer funds. So much for a “Master Plan.”

The board continues to chase an elusive standard at taxpayer expense with no regard to common sense spending practices. Other modernization plans in the spending proposal are based on re-purposing facilities for different age students or changing demographics. Brick and mortar upgrades when creative thinking solutions are called for.

Taking on more debt for “nice to have” projects does not make sense in a period of declining student numbers and open classroom capacity. I’m sure the school board would love to do all these projects. Spending money is fun. More fun than making the school systems work with the funds available and living within their means.

I propose if the school board wants to show real leadership, they will recognize the facts facing the district and balance the scales between want and need with funds already provided.

The amount of money raised by taxation must be limited to the real benefit provided, while the school board’s proposed expenditure is arbitrary in both quality and quantity, without any connection to taxpayer value.

When the school board feels compelled to “Market” this bond proposal under the guise of No New Taxes, it seems more like deception than honest discourse. These are new taxes, plain and simple, and the voters should understand this without a doubt.

Vote NO on Nov. 6.

Ray Hammond

Lake Orion Village Councilman

 

5 Responses to "Vote ‘No’ on the new school board debt proposal"

  1. Go Dragons   October 12, 2018 at 10:43 am

    I would recommend that you don’t sign these comments with “Lake Orion Village Councilman”, as that implies an interest on behalf of the Village, which constitutes misconduct in office.

    Reply
  2. Ray Hammond   October 12, 2018 at 6:56 pm

    I wrote the above OpEd and when submitted to the Lake Orion Review, I noted at the bottom these were my personal opinions and not those of the Village Council. Not sure why the paper added my title other than public interest in who was submitting the opinion. As a councilman, I can assure you there is no misconduct within that organization. They are a fine group dedicated to serving the Village and maintain proper, professional organizational behaviors at all times. Ray Hammond

    Reply
  3. Ken   October 17, 2018 at 9:57 am

    So are you saying that we pay more taxes each year based on the additional debt? Is this based on the additional interest that needs to paid associated with the new bond?

    Reply
    • Jake Singer   October 18, 2018 at 9:17 am

      Ken – The facts of the proposal are available at locsbond.org. The application submitted to the Department of Treasury shows how all of the calculations were made. The proposal considered all of the debt and interest obligations of both the existing bonds and the new bonds. The millage rate is currently projected to fall in the mid 2020’s. Approving these bonds will simply extend that rate into the future. All else being held equal, it represents about a 12 year extension of the current tax rate.

      The surrounding districts of Clarkston, Oxford and Rochester have passed bonds to implement the building modernizations that LOCS is proposing. I like to look at the 12-year extension as an investment in my home. The quality of the school district plays a huge role in the value of a home since it is the number one reason cited by home buyers. If we do not agree to approve this bond, how much will our homes be worth in several years when the tax rate finally does drop. My guess is not nearly as much as they would be if the bond does pass since our schools will not be attractive to buyers when they have the problems caused by years of neglect, lack of modern security/technology and programs that have been cut to fund critical building improvements. Those educational programming cuts will need to happen sooner (2019-20 school year) rather than later (2027 when the current bonds are paid off), so the time to Vote YES in on November 6th if we want to ensure that LOCS continues to enhance rather than detract from our property values.

      Reply
  4. Anonymous   November 1, 2018 at 10:27 am

    Ray….you the man

    Reply

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