Just My Opinion – Schools, School, Schools
We have all heard the real estate industry’s three-word creed on what most affects the price of a property. It’s “Location, location, location.” However, as many of those in real estate will tell you, it could be, and many times should be, “Schools, schools, schools.”
The quality of a local school system has a major impact on the value of the local real estate values. It starts with homes where people will pay higher prices to live in an area that provides a quality education as opposed to other towns, villages or neighborhoods that offer something less.
This, in turn, will attract and grow businesses that will increase the tax base and lower the overall tax burden on the residents. Studies have also shown that communities with good schools will also have better parks, more leisure activity type businesses, a lower crime rate and many more other amenities.
The Swanton Local School District has a five-year renewal levy on the May 3rd ballot for $825,000 or approximately 5.1% of its operating budget. This levy was first successfully put on the ballot in 1996 for the same $825,000 and the voters have approved several subsequent renewals since. Until this past November when it was replaced by a “substitute” levy and failed by three votes.
There may have been some misunderstanding or confusion by some voters who assumed it was a new tax or an increase in taxes. It was not. In fact, it represented, like every time it went on the ballot, a decrease in taxes. Because it is a flat amount of $825,000, its spending value has been subjected to inflation. The $825,000 in 1996 has lost more than 45% of its value and today, in 2022, stands at approximately $454,000. The milage, the number applied to the taxable portion of a property, required for the levy in 1996 was above 6.0 and has dropped to 3.2 today.
When a levy fails there is always an analysis done, or maybe a better word would be “autopsy”, to find out why. It may have been the confusion I referred to earlier but what I cannot understand are the difference in numbers reported by Fulton and Lucas counties during these levy votes. They seem to indicate we have two counties divided by a common school district.
Lucas County voters in favor of the past three renewal levies were at 34.0%, 35.0% and 35.6% while Fulton County numbers in favor of renewal came in at 60.5%, 65.0% and 55.8%. Until 2021, Fulton County, which makes up a much larger share of the district’s population, was able to offset the low numbers from Lucas County.
I have a hard time making sense of this. I cannot believe the residents of Lucas County value education that much less than its neighbors. Does the fact that all school property is located in Fulton County cause some underlying resentment or belief that Lucas County residents are receiving less value for their tax dollars or have less control on how the funds are spent? I would love to hear what is behind it and determine for myself if it has any validity.
Basically, the Swanton Local School District is a geopolitical boundary designated for providing convenient access to education. It is a separate entity that just happens to encompass portions of two counties and several townships and is no more complicated than that.
Not having children is the school system is another common excuse but, as I have shown, it does not mean you and your economic status will not be affected. Most of us were educated through the public school system. Somebody paid our way. We need to do the same. A strong school system means a strong community with a bright future, especially in small municipalities like Swanton. A yes vote is not just for the kids, it’s for all of us.