Ferguson: School bond overrides extend indebtedness - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Opinion

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Ferguson: School bond overrides extend indebtedness

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Posted: Saturday, November 2, 2013 1:03 pm

In case you are wondering how to vote on the Kyrene School District and Tempe Union High School District bond overrides, here are some thoughts.

The people who support the overrides say this isn’t a tax increase, and in a certain sense that’s true, at least at the present time. It replaces current debt with new debt and doesn’t raise taxes at this time. However, what it does is extend the indebtedness. The payment on the current debt begins to decline in 2014. So with what is currently in place there will be less demand for taxes because the required debt payments diminish. What this override does is replace the current debt with HIGHER debt that goes out much longer (past 2020), and so there will be no reduction in debt over that time. In that sense, it raises the need for FUTURE property taxes, ESPECIALLY when they start raising property valuations to reflect the recent improvement in the market. It will be a big hit at that point, and will last for years.

Our school districts (KSD and TUHSD) have had declining enrollment for quite a few years now. How do we fill the seats? We bus students in from OUTSIDE the district. We pay property taxes to keep facilities open that we otherwise don’t need, for students from outside the district.

The override supporters say not to worry… we get paid for each student we are busing into the district. They are not telling you the whole story. Yes, they get paid an amount for each student that is in class, but that doesn’t cover the cost of infrastructure, which is the subject of this override. WE pay to keep schools open that otherwise could not be justified. WE pay the infrastructure costs to keep the facilities functional, and that is a HUGE amount of money coming directly out of our property taxes.

What they really need to do is consolidate into fewer schools and close the ones that thereby become surplus. This will require reducing/eliminating the busing of students from outside the district. If they do that, the total cost of education in KSD/TUHSD would go down, but the quality could be maintained for the taxpayers who live in the district. What we do now is subsidize the cost of education for students from other districts with our tax dollars.

I hope this helps you in your decision about how to vote.

• Jennifer Ferguson, B.S.B.A, CRS, CNE, GRI, is an Ahwatukee Realtor with West USA Realty Office, 4505 E. Chandler Blvd., Suite 200.

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