Angry about your property taxes?   Now is the time to make a difference! VOTE NO on the USD 368 Bond Increase!

John Maddock

Last March, Miami County residents were enraged when they received their property appraisals, with a report from the Appraisers Office justifying valuations showing an average increase of almost 20% across the county. Meetings were held, and speakers and writers showed how to protest individual valuations.

All of this was helpful, but the theme from the Appraisers Office was “don’t worry, this doesn’t change your taxes, the taxing authorities can always vote to be “revenue neutral”.”

How did that work out for us? The County and the School Board both voted to tax above the revenue neutral mill levy. “Costs have gone up you see, and we need more from taxpayers to pay for the ‘things the citizens want.’”

Well, now we have a chance to vote on whether we agree with that assessment!

Elections will be held on November 7th and Advanced Voting is already underway.

Many have seen signs for candidates around the county and in Paola USD 368 district for a $40M bond issue “for the children”.

I, for one, am tired of opposition to anything regarding spending on schools as being “against the children”. There are very few people against children, but there are people who want accountability from those who are stewards of taxpayers’ money. The question is, “Are there more efficient ways to give young people the education they need and deserve?”  

Why is this important? Retirees are being forced out of the homes they have lived in and paid off due to the never-ending increase in their property taxes. Should we say anyone voting for higher taxes is against the retirees? Let’s agree on both sides that is not productive.

What do we need to provide a solid education, and what is the most effective way to provide it?

Do we need more money?

I have yet to see any study that links higher spending per pupil to better educational outcomes. In fact, a quick look at per pupil spending versus test scores shows that there is no easily recognized relationship.

Data I found from 2020 shows the state of New York had the highest spending at $25,139.00 per student and ACT scores averaged 24.5 with 22% of students taking the ACT test.

Idaho spent the lowest amount per pupil at $7,985.00, had a higher percentage of students taking the test (31%) and average scores of 22.5.

The national average was $13,187 with 52% of students taking the test and an average score of 20.7. Kansas spent $11,926.00, 72% took the test, and the average score was 21.2.

The Chart below from the Kansas Policy Institute shows more historical data.

It may not be obvious that when less students take the test it may be because they are the brightest students and looking to go on to higher education. I believe New York’s slightly higher number is related more to the fact that only the best students take the test than the massive spending on each student.

Can we agree that IF we need to spend money, the people collectively will do that?  

  • How should it be spent?
  • Do we need higher administrative salaries?
  • Do we need higher teacher salaries?
  • Do we need lower salaries for administrators but performance bonuses for effective use of the taxpayers’ money?
  • Do we need bonuses for teachers with exceptional student performance?
  • Are our schools run like our homes must, or like any business?
  • Or do we just elect school boards that vote 6-0 to increase taxes beyond revenue neutral “but not at the same mill levy”. After all, they didn’t keep the mill levy as high as it was, and it isn’t their fault that property values went up almost 20% on average!

Now in Paola we have a second try at a $40,000,000.00 bond issue. The current bonds will be paid off soon and when that happens property taxes are scheduled to drop. Until those bonds are paid off, the proponents of taking more money from taxpayers can continue to deceptively claim that this is a zero tax rate increase bond election. Their argument is that property taxes will just continue at the same rate until the new $40,000,000.00 is paid off.

I’m sorry, but when these bonds are paid off there are no more payments at all. To continue at the same rate is a new tax! When your car or home is paid off, if the bank asks you to continue to pay the same payment for years to come do you consider them “no new payments?” Of course you wouldn’t, that is ridiculous.

In my opinion, bonds are immoral to begin with, and property tax bonds are particularly immoral. One of the drivers of the Revolutionary War was “taxation without representation.” Property tax bonds have several aspects of taxation without representation.

First, not everyone owns property, but they can vote to obligate those that do to pay for something they don’t have to.

People who own rental property only get one vote, but they might pay on multiple properties.

People who live out of the taxing authority but have property in the area don’t get to vote at all.

Similarly, future residents have no vote in what their taxes may be when they move in. If the taxes are high enough, it may keep people from wanting to move here at all.

And finally, people on fixed incomes are at the mercy of those still working who may not have the same pressures to keep taxes low.

Even if people agree that we need to add vocational training back to our schools (which I do) do we really need $40,000,000.00 to do it? Do we need a new parking lot to increase educational outcomes? And what has been done with the proceeds from the last bond election which are still not paid off?   What is being done with the funds taxed every year? What will be done with the additional $1,416,126.00 in taxes that appears to have been increased beyond revenue neutral? And when are we ever going to see a proposed reduction in spending due to the economic conditions we face today?  

Let’s vote NO on the current $40,000,000.00 in bonds until we get a school board in place that will hold the administration accountable for how we are taxed while at the same time being effective in providing the best possible education for the students of this area. These candidates pledge to do so:

Position 1 – Shawn Miller

Position 3 – Amanda Gerken

Position 5 – Samantha M. Poetter Parshall

At Large – Kristian Gerken

Let’s take into account the taxpayers of this area, especially those on fixed incomes, as well as students! VOTE NO on the Bond Increase!

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