The latest update on the Tech bonding referendum is that the school district knows exactly how much money they need to build a new Tech High School but they aren’t finished designing the building.

According to Barclay Carriar, a 57-year-old adviser with Ameriprise Financial and co-chair of Neighbors for School Excellence, “What a lot of them don’t recognize is, with the cost of designing a building, 80 percent of it isn’t going to be designed until after the referendum. And the plans we’ve got now are still tentative.”

Picture this. Picture a homebuilder just starting out going into a bank and telling the loan officer that he wants to borrow $250,000 to build a home. The first thing that loan officer will do is ask about how big the house is, whether the contractor already has a buyer, etc. Imagine the contractor telling the loan officer that he’s got a good lead on someone who might buy the home but that he hasn’t had someone draw up the blueprints.

That contractor’s interview would end abruptly. This referendum should end quickly, too. This argument is absurd:

The group also points out that homeowners in the district already pay lower taxes than almost every other district in the immediate area. St. Cloud’s annual school tax expense on a $150,000 home is $521. The other metro area districts of Sauk Rapids-Rice ($741), Sartell-St. Stephen ($686) and Rocori ($627) all are higher. Even with passage of the referendum, St. Cloud taxes would rise to $739, still just below Sauk Rapids-Rice…

My first reaction is “So what?” If other cities want to spend more, that’s their decision. I’ve never been a fan of keeping up with the Joneses. If you want to win my vote, explain with specificity how spending additional money will improve the students’ learning experience.

Telling me that ‘we must invest in education’ is fluff. It isn’t a serious argument.

5 Responses to “Tech property tax increase update”

  • John Palmer says:

    Gary, I still have not seen any information about enrollment projections over the expected life of the proposed construction. Projections are guesses but there are methods to improve the accuracy of the guess. In the case of the ISD 742 proposal, we have not even seen a WAG let alone a SWAG concerning high school enrollment in district 742. Building for a high school student capacity of 3600 when today’s enrollment is about 2700 in a school district surrounded by school districts with much better records of achievement and a district in crisis due to changing demographics (e.g. a rapid influx of non English speakers) is a disaster waiting to happen. It is not at all beyond the possible that taxpayers are going to be stuck with many empty classrooms and the need to service debt with a declining tax base. A perfect storm may be on the horizon that will sweep St. Cloud into a death spiral of decline leading to more decline. I have already voted no and hope many others will vote no to slow and perhaps reverse the trends feeding that perfect storm threatening this community.

  • Dave Steckling says:

    Well stated Mr. Palmer. Anyone voting yes may as well at the same time purchase disaster
    survival insurance for that perfect storm sure to follow any new school construction. To
    quote a neighbor friend-“Right now we need good instruction not new construction”.

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