Sunday, October 11, 2009

When it's good to be too conservative: a correction to the school board taxy levy.


When I came up with the $15/$200k house estimate for the school board tax levy, I was using a figure I thought I heard from the chair of the school board through loud jeers from the crowd. A few friends with better math skills, and ears, wrote to correct me.

The rate is lower.

According to an Oct 6 newspaper article, the mill rate for the 9.9% increase would be a $7.44 rate... which works out to be less than $10 a month on a $200,000 house, not $15.

I've also had friends write in to note that, even though their homes have increased in value dramatically in the last 20 years, they are actually paying LESS in school taxes than they did 20 years ago... not a lower rate. They're paying less in real dollars.

So, those complaining that this rate increase is too high either can't manage their own budgets properly, have prioritized cable-TV ahead of their neighborhood education system, or are recently out of work.

Only the last group have a good argument.

If anyone can locate real numbers that contradict mine -- and everything I've seen indicates we live in a town with one of the most efficient school districts and one of the higher median household incomes in the state -- let me know and I'll post it up.

I'm also a bit confused by the argument that too many people are out of work... the rate has gone up some since April, but during that referendum half passed rather handily and the other half only lost by 16 votes inside the city limits. Maybe the rich folks out there in the subdivisions, with the expensive houses and the SUV's, have been hit harder than those of us who live in modest houses and drive economy cars -- that might explain some of the resistance.

I guess it is tough to scale back from two Hummers to one Hummer and a Denali. I imagine some of them had to give up one of their jet skis too, and maybe even a snowmobile.

Better to keep that $10 a month for gas money, rather than new kindergarten teachers.



Anonymous said...

Those who object did so when the economy was good, too. They complained that the district didn't spend enough on maintenance but would have complained if they did. They complain when the district tries to explain it's being penalized for being a low spending system, and would complain if it wasn't. That's about all they're good for... complaining.

And yes, you're absolutely right about priorities.

Kevin Scheunemann said...

Yes, Yes,

I hear the same minimization of tax increases all the time!

Let's take $10/month, that's $120 per year! Not just the first year, but the next year, and the year after that! Its $1200 after a mere 10 years.

Now that only accounts for someone who only owns a home in the district. What if they own a business too?

Its closer to $40/month for the "average" business. Or $480/year. $4800 over ten years.

$6000... that's a lot of my time, money, and effort, you are taxing. (and we are still only talking about the ridiculous increase from this year!)

We have not even started with the HUGE STATE BUDGET tax increases on business. These taxes have been even more choking to business, especially the garbage tipping fees!!

Just keep cheerleading on the side of the aisle to bleed businesses and families dry...the kids will have no jobs available after graduation...given the recent foreclosure rate...maybe no homes either.

Worshiping the "god of public education at all costs" is a public policy devoid of innovation and is an obstacle to serious educational reform. Much of what is done in schools today can be done online with electronic learning, giving the district tremendous potential to cut staff and be more efficient with tax dollars.

"Priorities" IS NOT swinging the moldy, unthinking, liberal tax increasing ax to the detriment of everyone in tough economic times.

Eema-le said...

For someone on an extremely tight budget, say someone who has been unemployed for a very long time or has had to take temporary/seasonal work, even $10 a month is a lot of money. It's very easy to say that people should cut back on Hummers etc. but for some people $120 a year means less food, fewer days with the heat on, etc.

Mpeterson said...

Someone who is unemployed a long time probably isn't living in a $200,000 house and so their payments will probably be a lot less, if anything at all.

Frankly, I'd like to know how many people in West Bend who live in $200,000 houses have to worry about their heating bills?

I'm willing to bet the answer is none.

And -- and this would be great to know -- how many people who have to worry about their heating bills even pay property taxes in the first place? I imagine that number, also, is none.

-- unless, as I said, they've quite recently lost their jobs.

Only someone in a house valued over $150k would even have to worry about more than maybe $6 a month and if $6 a month is stretching them (and a mortgage on $150k, 30 yrs, 5.5%, $2000 in property taxes = about $1000 a month)... if an extra $6 a month is stretching them, and they can still afford $1000/month on their mortgage, they're simply lousy at managing their money -- and I shouldn't have to carry their share of our civic obligations.

Frankly, we chose not to carry a mortgage that high and we're well able to pay our share of this levy.

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to add to this discussion that my mom works for the school district and was told that this tax increase saved her job.

Mpeterson said...

I wasn't kidding in the column when I suggested that, for a lot of these folks, public education is the enemy.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Scheunemann,

You said, "Worshiping the "god of public education at all costs" is a public policy devoid of innovation and is an obstacle to serious educational reform. Much of what is done in schools today can be done online with electronic learning, giving the district tremendous potential to cut staff and be more efficient with tax dollars."

Would you be for privatizing education and having parents pay for their childrens education therefore taking control of that education and eliminating public schools from the tax system?

Anonymous said...

"Much of what is done in schools today can be done online with electronic learning, giving the district tremendous potential to cut staff and be more efficient with tax dollars."


Why are you just blogging this proposal and not carrying it to the school board? Ah, you lack proof.

Frankly, it takes a trained, mature student to take online classes, something many high schoolers or middle schoolers or grade schoolers or kindergarten kids lack.

Kevin Scheunemann said...

I support vouchers allowing a competitive educational environment AND PARENTAL CHOICE.

(I'm still shocked at amount of liberals not willing to give parents school choice in complete disaster school systems like MPS.)

Can any liberal say they are truly "pro-choice" when they fail to support school choice?

Public schools are 100 years behind the times in terms innovation and using technology to expose the students to the best and brightest educators from across the nation.

Some universities have gotten this message, and the Kewaskum School district is experimenting to an extent, but WEAC is resistent to bettering the educational structure.

Thanks to WEAC, government is the barrier to reform.

Higher taxes is not reform, its merely funding the barrier to reform.

This issue is not about tax increases, its ABOUT A GOVERNMENT RUN SYSTEM FAILING TO ADAPT.

buzymom said...

Just wanted to mention that there is the Homestead credit available for property owners making less than 24.5K a year- that may help for some who don't make enough on unemployment or whose unemployment ran out. There is also a property tax deferral loan program thru WHEDA for the elderly having trouble.

Mpeterson said...

Uh, Kevin? Much of what is done can be done virtually?

That's simply wrong. Some of it can be done online, but even that might not be a desirable efficiency.

On the other hand, you do make your living from selling "fast food" -- calories packaged for economic rather than nutritional benefit. Maybe that explains why you'd think it's an appropriate model for education. :^)

"Okay kids, today you get algebra and spelling -- and would you like fries with that?" :^D

Anonymous said...

Actually, the the government run school system have saved the lives of many people today. A private system would further increase the gap between the rich and the poor. Just like how the poor don't have health insurance now (unless they are REALLY poor and can get it though the state).

Even if you want to argue that the poor deserve what they get and should work for what their earn, that doesn't apply to innocent children or even make sense in a more selfish way. Children are an investment, one of them could save your life or the lives of your family one day.

Anonymous said...

Kevin Scheunemann said...
"I support vouchers"

Vouchers? Isn't that the same as money coming from the tax payers?

That's not a solution. That's still taxation for schools. And you call yourself a libertarian. You're a libertarian in name ony.

PaulyW said...


You enjoy taking personal shots at Keven and not responding to his questions. Do you support school choice? I do not live in the district and can not comment on your tax levy, but would like your thoughts on the other larger topics such as virtual schools, pay as you go etc.

Mpeterson said...

Hey Pauly,

Kevin and I have known each other for -- oh, holy smokes Kevin, 15 years?

We're just playing.

Besides, Kevin's skin is thicker even than mine. :^)

"School choice" is a bit of test marketed bafflegab designed to distract from the fact that it simply funnels public, taxpayers money, into the pockets of private school operators. I'm still working out how the federal courts allow my tax dollars to pay for the religious education of fundamentalists -- I can't see how that's different from me being required to fund radical madrassas. So far as I can tell, the 'voucher' system provides just enough of a gap between state and religion to get a way with it. For now.

You should remember that this is the country that made public education really work for the first time -- it's what cemented us together as a nation. The fear of it I see comes mostly from squirrel-eyed creationists who believe science turns children into demonic secular humanists. The other complaints are just candy floss.

John Jost said...

Now you're talking... As a demonic secular humanist, I would say that your knowing Mr. Scheunemann and "just playing" with him does not make him any less dangerous, AH SAY, dangerous.

For his benefit, since he loves to talk about the "religion" of global warming as if any gods were involved, I will share the conclusion of a recent study on global warming by German scientists:

"Global warming threatens humankind as a whole, the time to change course is running out, and only a truly Herculean effort can safeguard the natural lifesupport systems on which our very survival depends. Humankind must begin to see itself, and conduct itself, as a global interest community."

PaulyW said...

Anon & Mark
Public education at MPS is not working. There are thousands of kids getting better education and in a safer environment at choice schools in Milwaukee. One could argue that it should be allowed everywhere, but there is not much need to pull kids from public schools because of sub-standard teaching or environment in West Bend. call religious school advocates or even worse those home schoolers "squirrel-eyed creationists "? That is a stretch. These are choices made by parents that feel they want something different than the cookie cutter school day for their kids. I would would say that the people in these settings are not looking for vouchers but just want independance to teach their children how they wish within the established guidelines of the law. If they want to add religion to the coursework, it's their right. Statistics show that Home School and Religious schools put out as many great college students as public schoools do. They got there on a different path.

Kevin Scheunemann said...

Don't worry...I have a thick skin.

Being "zinged" by Mark Peterson is as much fun as when Assembly Speaker Prosser ripped me in open session on the Assembly floor for taking $9000 out of the public campaign fund.

(I remain to this day the only 3rd party candidate in the history of WI to qualify for public campaign financing.)

Prosser did not like it because the republicrats have this public campaign "slush" money all "divided up" for campaign season and no one expected a Libertarian Assembly candidate to qualify to take that kind of money chunk out of the fund.

This was back in my college days. I thought it was a good time for something I did on a lark.

The "loophole" allowing 3rd party candidates to do this has since been closed by the republicrats.

Some people went to college to party, I ran for office and burned my UW-Milwaukee bus pass. (which got me hauled in front of liberal administrative tribunals...did you know its "hate speech" to speak against being forced to pay for mass transit bus pass via tuition and sell it!)

So Mark Peterson is fairly tame (and sometimes common sense) compared to some of the crazy things I've done and seen in politics over the years.

If you want politics, serve on a National Board of Directors for a Franchisee Association, the most successful QSR CO-OP in the industry, and a Cone company that competes with Warren Buffet's corporate supply chain....that's real me on that one!

Mpeterson said...

Yeah Pauly, Kevin's been driving people crazy for years. He's used to it. :^)

First time I remember was the infamous West Bend cruising ordinance.