At Monday’s Board of Supervisor meeting, I was privileged to be among a group of over 70 students, teachers, parents and community members advocating for the citizens to be able to vote in November to decide the fate of our middle schools.
School board chairman Timothy Hurst gave an eloquent and passionate plea on the price to pay for not acting, posing the question “what we will invest in [if not our children and the county’s future]?” The Southwest Times recently posed the question on their facebook page on whether a new middle school was needed; the over 200 responses were almost all in favor.
While Board of Supervisors Chairman Andy McCready stressed that the proposal for the new consolidated middle school has not yet been finalized, all citizens should be aware of the impact of a potential tax increase if the new middle school were to be approved.
Chairman Hurst gave a run-down of potential costs –
- The average home value in Pulaski County is $140,000.
- A 20% increase in the current property tax rate of 64 cents per $100 of assessed value would be 12.8 cents. As a comparison, Montgomery County taxes property at a rate of 89 cents per $100 of assessed value.
- If a $45 million loan were required, this would equal an 11 cent increase (or ~17%) . For the average home in the county, this equates to $150 per year or $3 per week or 40 cents per day.
I would argue that the future of our children is well worth this amount of tax increase. While for some in this county, $150 is significant sum there are programs that provide tax relief to the elderly, disabled and those who use their land to operate farms.
Additionally, those of us who are homeowners have a stake in protecting our home values. The county has been fortunate to have recent economic growth such the expansion of Phoenix Packaging. However, as mentioned in public comment at the meeting by a realtor, many who work in Pulaski County choose to live elsewhere due to the conditions of the middle schools. I have childhood friends who choose to live in Montgomery County instead of Pulaski County not due to the quality of education, but because of the lack of investment in the school facilities. A decreasing population and sluggish real estate sales impact the resale value of our properties. A new middle school will not only increase the value of our homes, but will demonstrate that the county is committed to providing the necessary facilities to educate the next generation and attract new residents.