Editorial

Bond requires no ‘new’ taxes, instead tax extension

ACHTUNG: This is not a “fair and balanced” article. It is an editorial by the editor.

“No… Read my lips… No new taxes!” — President George Herbert Walker Bush on the campaign trail in 1988

My last article Monday night about the Wayland Union Schools bond issue included the assertion that approving the bond request would not result in new or increased taxes for Wayland residents. At least one reader begged to differ.

Sherry Kuyt, former ace reporter for Ye Olde (but now defunct) Penasee Globe, penned a response in the “comments” section of Townbroadcast, maintaining that taxes actually would go up because it would lengthen the time in which the money would have to be paid.

So actually, this difference comes down to semantics.

Ms. Kuyt made it clear that she understands the need for a new high school swimming pool because it is ancient, out of date and in a state of serious disrepair. However, she sincerely believes it is misleading to suggest taxes will not be increased.

My position, which I will continue to defend, is that residents in the Wayland Union School District are now paying 8.4 mills each year for the 2017 bond issue that was just completed. Voters in November 2017 approved that amount to pay for an addition to the middle school, artificial turf at the football stadium and new tennis courts.

That bond, after five years, has run its course and is being dropped.

So Patricia Velie, assistant superintendent for finance and operations, insisted that the 8.4-mill levy will be continued for the next 25 years if voters approve this new bond request in the August primary election.

So it can be argued that taxes will not go up. However, with approval, they will be extended for different causes.

There can be no argument that the biggest piece of this package is the tearing down of the old high school swimming pool to wake way for a gleaming new and larger pool.

To be sure, a smaller part of the request is for roofing and repairs at other school buildings.

When the dust settles, it becomes clear that both Ms. Kuyt and Ms. Velie are correct in their different assessments.

My added take on this is that Ms. Velie a couple of years ago performed a little magic on the last bond to have the artificial at the football field taken care of at no extra cost, even though it was believed to not be included in what was offered. The assistant superintendent has been a wizard with the local school district’s finances, building the fund balance (or rainy day fun) up to 18 percent during her tenure, and I have no reason to doubt she’ll come up with some way to make this proposal even more palatable in the long run.

It appears the time to strike is now, while the iron is hot.

5 Comments

  • After taking part in one of the tours offered by the schools administrators, I was very convinced that this request is a much-needed project for our community. It has my full support. Go Wildcats!!!

  • So………..$48..5 million dollars is not new taxes……Hmmmmmm……This kind of thinking is why America is in financial ruin. If approved WUS will be borrowing $48.5 million dollars, new debt.

    Can you imagine using this theory on your personal finances? They borrow more money, extend their loan duration and because its the same interest rate its good to go. Sorry to say a lot of people do.

    Liars can figure but figures don’t lie, sorry Mr Editor……..

    To be clear, they (WUS) probably need these upgrades, just be honest (not half honest) with the taxpayer.

    Cheers!!

    • Hello Mr. Wilkens –

      You are absolutely right – WUS would be borrowing new money for these much needed upgrades = new debt.

      What is happening is that the district’s taxable values have grown significantly (let’s call this equity), two debt issues are being paid off in 2023 and 2024 (creating more equity), add a 25 year payoff for this new debt and you have an equation for a NO mill increase. The 8.4 mills currently charged will not change because of all these elements, but the district will have access to funds to build a much needed new pool and attend to these other spaces that need attention due to the growth and use of the buildings in our district since 1974.

      This situation is similar to a personal homeowner who bought a home here in Wayland 10 years ago for $110k, financed 80% of that or $88k (equity = $22,000), and now realizes the property is selling for an estimated $200k (new equity $130k if their principal on mortgage is now $70k +/-), and now wants to expand or renovate with that new equity limit at today’s still advantageous interest rates. Likely little to no change in their payment amount after financing (like our mills), but access to cash to complete the value adds to the property.

      I appreciate the opportunity to always present the facts and I always appreciate someone thinking deeply enough to consider “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch!”

      Yes, to be clear (to borrow your term:) these upgrades are much needed. I invite everyone to our next building tour March 26, 2022 at 9 a.m. – meet at the main high school entrance.

      Thank you for the opportunity to talk and please ask questions anytime. I am available almost every day at the administrative offices.

  • Ms. Velie, thank you for the financial information and explanation. It is truly refreshing to have a school official with accounting and financial background knowledge. Usually we get the standard we need more money but have no idea where it will come from unless increasing millage.
    I have supported your selection for the superintendent’s position. If the school board members don’t recognize your value to the district, they are blind.

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