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Open Forum: It's time to repair school infrastructure

On Tuesday, February 8, 2011, voters in the Pequot Lakes School District have an exceptional opportunity to help promote quality public education. At no time in recent memory have low financing rates and reasonable construction costs created such a favorable time to repair and improve the district's facilities. But forget low interest rates and rock-bottom building costs for a moment. Here are the main reasons to proceed: our physical plants desperately need repair, and our students are being packed into spaces that were not designed as classrooms and that do not meet today's teaching and learning needs.

The facts are straightforward. If the capital bond referendum passes, the expected tax increase will be $23 per year on a house with a taxable value of $100,000. If the referendum fails, the school board may have to use its contingent levy authority to make necessary repairs (main campus roof, boiler, etc.) and to implement stopgap measures to meet the immediate classroom needs. So taxes could still rise up to $17 per year on a house valued at $100,000. If the referendum passes, a slightly higher tax will be approved, that is true. But this increase will result in substantially "more bang for the buck" because the capital bond is subject to much more favorable interest rates.

Make no mistake, property taxes are likely to increase, one way or another. Nobody wants to pay more if we can avoid it. But we have an opportunity and an obligation to repair critical infrastructure while expanding and improving our current facilities to meet the pressing increase in student enrollment. If you compare the cost of a capital bond levy versus the alternative emergency levy, voting "Yes" on February 8 makes the most sense.

Jonathan Yahn

Rural Pequot Lakes