Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Why I'm voting yes to PPEL today

School vote today for increase to PPEL in Fort Dodge.

Why I will vote yes and what could happen if it fails: My daughter has orchestra, and FDSH is the only school in the area that offers it. It's a big reason why I don't open enroll her elsewhere (like MNW where they have school-issued laptops, for example). Orchestra is frequently at risk of being cut for budget reasons.

If the physical needs of the schools are taken out of the general fund, orchestra may go away. There goes my main reason for keeping her at FDSH. So maybe I open enroll her at a different school and FD schools lose the money for her, making it more difficult to pay for things. Or maybe I decide that we'll move out of the area - to Ames or DM or somewhere else with an orchestra program. That would mean that all the money I spend here for rent, shopping, etc., now goes somewhere else. Now imagine if 50 or 100 parents do this.

Maybe I don't have the math right, but I think it means if you have a $100,000 house, your property tax would increase by $34 a year. Is that $34 worth it to you to put the schools in a bind? Currently 81% of the general fund goes to salaries. Imagine how many teaching jobs will be at risk if the PPEL fails and the maintenance, school bus purchases, technology and all that is covered by the PPEL has to come out of the general fund. And if your kids go to a different school - is it a school that is bused by FD buses?

People are always complaining about taxes, and I understand that. But taxes are necessary to have the kind of place you would want to live in. Imagine if you could say "my taxes will help to keep this road in repair, but not that road." And think if you lived on the road that people didn't want to pay for.

I haven't done the research for a really well-thought-out blog post, but I am sure that I am more aware of the issue than people who just look at this and say "no more taxes." There is already a PPEL. The current funding amount is due to expire. The current PPEL doesn't cover the current needs, and honestly, neither will the increase. But if we don't get the increase, the situation will be a lot worse. The amount that the increase will cost homeowners is so small, really. I could cut that amount out of my monthly budget just by not drinking pop. If I can do that on my small salary, it's possible for pretty much anybody.

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