LETTER: School bond is frivolous tax burden
The following is a letter to the editor submitted to the Park Rapids Enterprise by a reader. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the Park Rapids Enterprise. To submit a letter, email email@example.com or mail it to Park Rapids Enterprise, 203 Henrietta Ave. N., Park Rapids, MN 56470.
The proposed Park Rapids School district bonding issue, soon to be voted on, reads like the wish list that was just passed in Washington, D.C. Nearly $60 million dollars, with what percentage going to the actual education of students? Tennis courts, cafeteria modernization, bus garage update, other “I want” frivolous expenditures.
At a time of rising gas prices, increasing income taxes and other taxes, loss of jobs due to COVID-19, and higher unemployment, the school district says “it will only be $20 a month on a $200,000 property.”
Well, the average household income in the city is $23,628, with nearly 12 percent of the population living below the poverty line. Twenty dollars a month would be a severe hardship when coupled with the other financial turns looming.
In the surrounding countryside, homes on lakes or with acreage will see an exponentially increased tax burden. These are not wealthy people. For the most part, they are people who through good fortune and hard work are realizing their dream. The average age of lakeshore owners is 68, and they live on fixed incomes. What will their new tax burden be? Farmers have great wealth in their land, which is what taxes are based on, and very little money in their pocket.
The school district will be receiving between $2.5 and $3 million dollars from the just-passed “COVID Relief Bill.” If this is not enough money to better educate our students or offset expenditures due to the pandemic, then put together a package that will serve the students without overburdening the populace – not a “wish list.”
All entities, whether public service or private business, that have a governing body overseeing their budgets have to explain the how and why they are requesting an increase to the budget. It is not enough to say “it’s better for customer service,” “will improve patient care,” “better educate students.” The question is how will this request accomplish its goals and why is this necessary. Make these numbers palatable to the voters and hold the vote during the months when our population is in residence, not during the winter months. This is a form of gerrymandering.
In fairness, it should be noted that some of the financial statistics are from the year 2010. These are most current numbers available through the U.S. Census.
I will be voting “no” on this currently proposed bond and encourage others to do the same.