UPDATE at 6 p.m.: Getting word that new property assessments in DeKalb showing big jumps in some areas despite collapse of housing market. A neighbor saw a $300,000 jump — $400,000 to $700,00 — and has not added onto her house. Is there a glitch in the assessments? Anybody else seeing that sort of rise in their house’s value?
A DeKalb homeowner sent this strong letter in response to the DeKalb school board’s proposal to raise taxes. I thought I would share it here.
I expect the school board members will be getting a lot of similarly unhappy responses to their plan to dig the system out of its financial hole by a tax increase, teacher furloughs, a shortened school year and larger class sizes. Here is the letter:
Here we go again. DeKalb County, this time the school system, is in trouble and we property owners and taxpayers are asked to put in even more money. Our family loves the public education system, we are both government employees, too, but the taxes in this county have gotten way out of hand. We have voted in favor of the additional sales tax each time to help the schools and voted yes to virtually every request by the school board. But please, no more increasing property taxes!
Over the last few years, the county has eliminated the school property taxes for much of our elderly population under the idea they have “already paid their share,” as though suddenly they have no interest in an educated population. This current elderly generation is better off than any that has ever gone before and will almost certainly be better off than the ones to come! In the past 10 years, our personal property taxes have already gone up 71 percent without any change in the structure of our home.
Call it what you will, the county just increased property taxes significantly last year, and refuses to decrease property values, and now the county CEO and the school board both want to increase taxes, too. Please stop.
Please don’t do this. Is this one reason folks start moving to other counties? In the long run, these increases are just hurting the county as it shows no ability to tighten its belt as any good family would rather than just taking more out of every person’s bank accounts.
All these raises have happened while property values were dropping precipitously the last few years. For us personally, one of our salaries is frozen, and the other, the teacher, keeps getting no “changes in the contract amount,” but without increases and at the same time, increasing the length of the school day and not paying for various workdays when the teachers have to work any way.
While one might say, well this is not the school board’s doing, it is indeed its concern. School board members must look at the overall picture of what your population is facing. The board and others have chosen or approved poor superintendents who were being chased away by their former systems and then paid them extravagant salaries renewing contracts just before termination; allowed corruption and stealing of taxpayer money; continued to manage an overly extended central office; and funded programs that should never have been funded.
The state Legislature needs to stop the continuing yearly whittling away at public education in favor of private and the public school boards need to be vocal in leading the charge against this. After the taxes go in place for a temporary problem they never go away. We will be saddled with these extra taxes from hence forward. When times grow flush, we will just see more money being spent and no emergency funds.
When will all this stop and the school board stand up and make the hard decisions that are needed rather than always caving in to special to loud groups and raising taxes? We have no more money to give.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog