The Emporia school district is asking voters to approve a new bond issue, and it’s an important decision, requiring a clear understanding of all the facts.
Some Emporia residents came to Kansas Policy Institute with questions about the school bond issue, because we’re a non-profit research and educational organization with more than 20 years’ experience in school spending and student achievement issues.
But KVOE Radio Owner Steve Sauder objects to our efforts to inform the public. Mr. Sauder wrote a guest column in The Emporia Gazette which made an unfounded accusation about where we get our numbers on the school board issue. The facts provided by Kansas Policy Institute come from USD 253.
For example, the district is promoting the project as costing $78 million, but that doesn’t include interest payments. The USD 253 website says the total of principal and interest is $140 million.
Here’s another one. The district says the owner of a $100,000 home will pay about $34 per year in property taxes, but that’s just a portion of the cost. The real cost to that homeowner is about $140 per year.
What’s missing? The difference — $106 per year — is the cost of about 9 mills of property tax being paid now on another bond issue. The authority to collect that 9 mills goes away when the debt is retired in about two years; unless voters approve more debt before then, that 9 mills of property tax goes away.
Emporia residents are being asked to keep paying that 9 mills of property tax and add about 3 more mills on top … for the next 28 years.
Kansas Policy Institute isn’t taking a position on what voters should do. Every resident should look at all the information and make their own decision on this important issue.
We’re just providing facts and answering questions, because information is sometimes hard to come by, and transparency in government is essential.