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.
Lake Orion Village Councilman