'No' to fire districts
Out of 6,354 households in the Lake Hamilton Fire District, only 356 voted for placing the annual dues on the tax records for collection and 113 voted against. I did not know the vote took place Feb. 18, and I wondered about the significance of this move by the district.
I inquired at the monthly meeting March 12 with questions. Does this mean that I have the option of being a member of the volunteer fire department, and the answer is no. Does this mean that I cannot get my car tags or pay the taxes on my property until the fire dues are paid, and the answer is yes. Does this mean that if I do not pay the fire dues, then my home can be put in foreclosure and I will be put out into the streets, and the answer is yes.
Why would any household of any fire district vote yes to this proposal and put their home in foreclosure? I understand two other districts are moving in the same direction as Lake Hamilton Fire District and I urge members of each district to vote no.
'No' to millage increase
On May 21 taxpayers living in Fountain Lake School District will be voting on a proposed 4-mill increase in our property taxes, which are currently at 34.8 mills. If approved, all district property owners, regardless of age, will have to pay higher taxes. This proposed higher rate will increase your property taxes approximately $80 per $100,000 appraised value. Example: a $150,000 home will owe about $120 more; a $200,000 home will owe about $160 more per year. Consider how our school district has gotten itself into this financial bind.
Arkansas has a School Choice law, designed to introduce a measure of competition between school districts. Theoretically good, but the implementation is beggaring our school. Student enrollment within FLSD has been fairly flat for years. So no one complained about the trickle of students living out of our district who asked to attend FLSD. That trickle has become a flood: we currently have 98 Choice Students enrolled. (There are about 29 additional Choice Students whose parent(s) are on staff and not covered by this study.)
FLSD is considered a wealthy district, so the state sends only $566 per student to cover educational costs. Our district's per-pupil cost in 2017-18 was $12,141. Bottom line: FLSD loses $11,575 a year on every Choice Student. This amounts to over $1,000,000 a year being spent to educate students whose parents do not live or pay taxes in our district. That's approximately 10 percent of FLSD's total annual budget.
One FLSD mill brings in approximately $365,000. Over 3 mills of the proposed increase will go to bail the district out of this fiscal mess, partially of its own making and partially due to state legislators not understanding school funding. Vote no! to higher property taxes on May 21. Charity begins at home.
Hot Springs VillageEditorial on 03/21/2019
Print Headline: Thursday's Letters to the Editor