Today is "election" day for the Whitefish Bay School Referendum. (Note: That's the only item on the ballot.)
The facts are these:
Question 1 is to issue $9m in bonds for replacing roofs, tuck pointing, upgrading heating & ventilation, upgrading electric, etc, etc. The mill rate impact estimate is .35. Debt is retiring in the amount of .35 on the mill rate. If Q1 fails, the mill rate for School taxes goes down .35, or about $125 on a $350k house, If Q1 passes, the mill rate goes up, then down the same amount, for a net tax impact of zero.
Question 2 is to issue $13.9m in bonds for "Educational Improvement" .. multi-purpose rooms, new music room, science lab space, technology upgrades, etc. The mill rate estimate for Q2 is .71, which means a $350,000 home can expect a tax increase of $248/year if Q2 passes.
These mill rate estimates include interest cost and losses to state aid. The estimated interest rate was 5.5%, which is worst-case. WFB has a chance at getting zero-percent federal stimulus loans, contingent upon referendum passage.
Personally, I'm voting "yes" on both questions. While the economy is gloomy, it also presents the opportunity for low construction and interest costs that are spread out over decades.
While I've lived here and paid into the system without having a child at school for a dozen years, I've been in the schools a number of times. I've honestly been surprised at how many areas of the schools look sad. -- There's an odd juxtaposition of the high standards we keep everything else in the Bay, our homes, our streets, our parks .. with the condition of the school buildings.
I believe that over the long term, we should improve our schools at regular intervals. Our last public vote to do this was 14 years ago. As the debt for that rolls off, we should look to the future.