The lead watchdog of Woodstock School District 200, Susan Handlesman, writes of the Woodstock D200 Facility Review Committee meeting held Monday night:
I attended the second Facility Review Committee meeting last night.
The first meeting was attended by a 9-1 ratio of D200 employees (significantly more Administrators than teachers) to community members.
Wold Architects, the firm who was just paid to conduct a safety review on all D200 buildings and recommend costly upgrades, led the initial meeting, then last week were bused tours of 11 school buildings.
Last night I passed out the flyer pasted below.
The discussion quickly went to which buildings with enrollment markedly below enrollment capacity could be taken off-line, and students re-located into other buildings.
Clay Academy and Dean St. were first to be examined because Clay ‘needs’ $1.5 million capital improvements in the near term, and Dean ‘needs’ a new boiler.
Clay enrollment is stated as 64, and the building’s enrollment capacity is stated as 300.
Last night it was stated that 12 are local students, 53 are out-of-district tuition students. (64 (or 12) out of 300).
Dean St. School enrollment is stated as 322, and the building’s enrollment capacity is stated as 500. (322 out of 500)
Cost of running each building was stated as around $71,000, without including multiplicative administrative and staff expenses, and without including ‘needed’ capital improvements as stated by Wold Architect Consultants in this year’s paid review.
The D200 Administration Annex is leased at a cost of $70,000 a year, and the OTHER Administrative Annex across the street is owned by the District but could be sold.
PLEASE, COMMUNITY MEMBERS WHO CANNOT ATTEND THESE FACILITY REVIEW COMMITTEE MEETINGS!: PLEASE POST SPECIFIC SUGGESTIONS AND I WILL TAKE THEM TO THE NEXT MEETING.
PROPERTY TAX RATE CRISIS IN WOODSTOCK
WOODSTOCK PROPERTY TAX RATE: 4.6% OF HOME’S FAIR MARKET VALUE
National average property tax rate in America is around 1.5% of home’s fair market value.
This property tax rate is 2% more than Chicago, 3.6% higher than Indiana, and triple that national average. This 4.6% property tax rate is the most significant factor driving the fate of our community.
WHERE DO WOODSTOCK HOUSEHOLDS GET THE MONEY TO PAY THESE IRRATIONALLY HIGH PROPERTY TAXES?
Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Expenditure Survey puts average American household property tax expenditure at 3.4% of household income. WOODSTOCK MEDIAN INCOME HOUSEHOLDS PAY OVER 12% of household income to property taxes!!!
In Woodstock, with household median income $57,000 and median home value $152,000; the 4.6% property tax on a fairly assessed home is $6992; 6992/$57,000=.1226.
That is: 12.26% of Woodstock median income households’ budget must be paid in property taxes.
Look at BLS breakdown of household expenditure percentage categories. There simply is no 8+% additional (over and above average American expenditure percentages) to spare.
Woodstock families must give up PETS, and SAVINGS for RETIREMENT, and CHILDREN’S COLLEGE SAVINGS in order to stay in their homes by paying the 4.6% property tax rate demanded here instead.
And worst of all, irrational property tax rate excesses are fully capitalized as negative home value. Each year the value of homes here falls 3% relative to homes across America.
CAN WOODSTOCK SURVIVE 4.6% PROPERTY TAX RATES?
Why would anyone move here, pay 4.6% annual property tax on a home which must depreciate 3% per year relative to homes elsewhere?
Why would any business considering locating here not demand property tax abatements, and/or free money and land from TIF districts? If businesses do not pay property taxes, our death spiral of home values will continue, as homes continue to fall and taxes continue to rise.
Why would prospective businesses assume there will be any citizens (other than public employees with guaranteed defined pensions and health insurance) having disposable income to spend locally, when the 4.6% property tax rate demands such an inordinate chunk of most residents’ household incomes?
Why should any citizen spend money on home upkeep for a depreciating property which, if improved, will be taxed at rates higher than a mortgage interest rate would be to purchase a second home anywhere else?
IS IT POSSIBLE TO RUN THIS SCHOOL DISTRICT ON A LOWER BUDGET?
- D200 spends $1.32 per student annually for every $1 dollar Huntley 158 spends per student annually…NOT including the massive debt D200 has run up overtly AND covertly (there are millions$$$ every year in unreported interest being accrued on a 2006 $14 million Capital Appreciation Bond. There are Millions in pension liability being accrued annually by this district for retired and current employees).
- When Lincoln Way HS had a very similar problem (expansion –anticipatory overbuilding schools in 2007, no enrollment increase in subsequent years), they shut down a brand new high school rather than burden their taxpayers with above-3% property tax rate.
- 3 years ago (2013) D200 got $5.36 million GSA. 2016 GSA was $13.91 million. Enrollment? Down from 2013. Levy? Flat. Where does all that ($8 million+) money go? Would the board provide taxpayers with a specific cost-benefit analysis in return for the demanded sacrifices?
WILL D200 WORK WITH THE WOODSTOCK COMMUNITY TO HELP IT SURVIVE????
This ‘Facility Review’ Committee was pitched to concerned taxpayers as a review of enrollment capacity (2 high schools near 50%, Clay Academy at 23%) and low-enrollment buildings’ full costs of Ops & Maintenance as they relate to the 4.6% property tax rate.
Instead, the meeting has started out led by highly paid consultants who indicated this was a fact -finding mission for additional spending on ADA compliance and security kiosks.
What is the purpose of this facility review?