Today D181 Residents received a glossy, color, 2 page flyer in the mail that purports to provide the FACTS on the HMS Referendum. (The flyer can also be found at the D181 website at: http://www.d181.org/data/files/gallery/ContentGallery/Community_Mailer__FINAL.pdf
This flyer was NOT prepared or paid for by the Vote Yes For HMS citizen's committee. Rather, it clearly states that it is "A Publication from Community Consolidated School District 181." That means that it was most likely created by the very highly paid D181 Communications Director. Since it was delivered through the US mail, in addition to the paper and ink supplies needed for the thousands of flyers printed and mailed to all D181's Postal Patrons, the postage was also paid for with D181 taxpayer dollars. We'd like to start off by asking, HOW MUCH DID THESE MAILERS COST? DID THE BOE AUTHORIZE TAXPAYER MONEY TO BE USED FOR THESE FLYERS?
Now we all know that D181 administrators and BOE members are not allowed, under Illinois law, to advocate or encourage YES votes. To do so is illegal. They are only allowed to present FACTS regarding the referendum. This creates a lot of gray areas, where one could argue that by not presenting ALL the facts that might lead a taxpayer to vote NO, the D181 administration is in effect encouraging YES votes. We will leave it up to you to decide whether or not this flyer was the "objective"type of brochure that is permissible by law.
In our opinion, the D181 administration conveniently omitted many FACTS that might lead D181 taxpayers to vote NO. In the interest of fairness, each part of this Series will copy D181's presentation of facts in BLUE. Then we will post additional FACTS in RED that we think you should consider before election day.
Part 1 of this Series presents additional FACTS on the Cost and Impact Analysis discussed in the D181 mailer.
The D181 mailer states:
"Should the referendum be approved, the Board has determined that payment of the new debt would begin in 2018-19, when construction of the HMS building is to be completed. Therefore, homeowners would see an increase in their tax payment in 2019 (estimated at $263 for a $500,000 home and $537 for a $1 million home). However, because the District's existing debt will be paid in full by Fiscal Year 2024, homeowners would see a decrease in their tax payment in 2025 (estimated at $382 for a $500,000 home and $781 for a $1 million home). If the final costs were less than $65 million, the Board of Education would not sell bonds for $65 million, but rather only sell bonds for the actual amount needed. The Board would not have the option of using remaining funds for another project (i.e. facility work at another school),as the referendum seeks approval to use the funds specifically for the HMS facility project."
Here is information on the Cost and Impact Analysis that the D181 administration didn't highlight:
1. 2025 should be the long awaited year when property tax bills decrease after the bonds that financed the last four referenda are finally paid off with our hard earned tax dollars. According to the information provided on the HMS Referendum Debt Service and Homeowner Impact Analysis prepared by the D181 administration a $500,000 home CURRENTLY pays $563/year and a $1 million home CURRENTLY pays $1147/year in taxes to pay for the bonds used to finance the past referenda. No doubt, many families in D181 would love to have that extra money to spend on their personal "needs," not just their "wants." Alas, that will not happen if the HMS referendum is approved.
2. If the HMS referendum is approved, a $500,000 home will pay an ADDITIONAL $263/year for the first six years (2019-2024) after HMS is built. The property tax payment for the HMS referendum bonds will then INCREASE to $444/year for the next 12 years (2025-2036). A $1 million home will pay an ADDITIONAL $537/year for the first six years (2019-2024). The property tax payment for the HMS referenda bonds will then iINCREASE to $903/year for the next 12 years (2019-2036).
3. To suggest that a taxpayer's bill will GO DOWN after 2025 is a spin on the truth of the HMS referendum facts. The FACT is that the portion of your tax bill that covers repayment of the HMS referendum bonds will INCREASE in 2025 by 60%. While you will no longer have to pay for repayment of the bonds that financed the past referenda, in our opinion, it is disingenuous for the D181 administration to not thoroughly explain this fact and spin it as an overall tax decrease starting in 2025.
4. Here's what taxpayers will actually pay over the life of the bonds on the HMS referendum alone:
- $500,000 home will pay $6906.
- $1 million home will pay $14,058.
- $1.5 million home will pay $20,964.*
- $2 million home will pay $28,116.*
- $2.5 million home will pay $35,022.*
- $3 million home will pay $42,174.*
The amounts listed above are not insignificant. In fact, what D181 taxpayers need to remember is that these amounts are in ADDITION to the rest of the property taxes that they pay to D181 to fund the day to day operations, teacher salaries and programs in all 9 schools, and they pay these taxes whether or not they have a student attending the schools. Each voter will have to make a personal decision on whether they can afford to pay the above amounts to build ONE school. And even if they can afford it, they must decide whether the $65 million project is is the right one, at the right time for a district (as some of our readers have pointed out) that faces future financial uncertainty.
More on that as the Series continues......
* This is an estimate based upon the information provided in the HMS Referendum Debt Service and Homeowner Impact Analysis on the D181 website.