Along with everything else we've had to endure during this seemingly endless political season, we are also having to deal with yet another levy vote in the Mounds View School District. This is the fourth time the district has gone to the voters for more money in the last decade. They have been successful twice, once for a capital expenditure levy, another time for an operating levy. Another time, they were shot down. Now they're back, again, asking for more money.
I'm torn about this. Of course we have two children who are currently attending schools in the district and the extra money will help. But, at the same time, there is no question that the impact of teachers' union contracts and some questionable spending choices has made the financial situation of the district than it might be otherwise. As usual, the school district has released a list of especially draconian cuts should the levy not pass (CLOSE THE POOLS! NO BAND FOR YOU! CLASS SIZES AVERAGING 3,455!). And they would probably make those cuts, too, because between 70-80% of available monies are tied to salaries.
But at the same time, I have neighbors who live on fixed incomes. They have paid for their homes and supported the school district with their property taxes for up to 40 years now. And some of them may be forced from these modest homes if property taxes continue to rise. And when they are forced from these homes, there's not been much evidence that families with children are moving into these houses. Instead, young families seem to be moving further out, to places like Lino Lakes, Andover, Hugo, etc.
So what do we do? If the levy pases, it will mean that our property taxes will go up about $200-250 next year. But it will likely be more than that, as the city and the county will be increasing their levies as well. It's getting to be a squeeze, but it's a necessary one. Everyone loves lots of government services, but people love to have someone else pay for them even more. And the days when Wayzata and North Oaks residents would subsidize the rest of us through draconian state income taxes are gone.
My guess is that the levy will pass, but it will be close. And, truth be told, I hope the vote is really close. The district, the unions, and those who have driven up costs with an endless ratchet need to understand that the day of reckoning is coming. It may even arrive this election cycle.