Courier-Gazette Letters to the editor Nov. 7

Nov 07, 2019

RSU 13 School Property Taxes

By now most Rockland property owners have paid the first half of their combined Regional School Union 13 School, Rockland and Knox County property tax bill. The city manager stated that the average increase to homeowners is $310, including $290 in school taxes. For me, the increase is $504, including $470 to help pay for the increase in health insurance coverage for teachers and their families, and for the increasingly expensive services for special needs students. Also, under the rule of 7.2 percent Rockland’s property taxes, it could double or amplify by 100 percent in 10 years! For me, this would result in an eventual tax bill of $15,000; which most will go to RSU 13.

For the following groups, Rockland’s school taxes are unaffordable: low-income families, the elderly, veterans, disabled, and property owners residing in larger, older homes living on fixed incomes. Municipal and school officials have been telling us that the way to address school tax increases is to change the state school funding formula through legislation. In the past, the Knox County Legislative Delegation and the RSU 13 Administrators and Board members have not been successful in changing the formula. They're likely to be just as successful in the future as they have back then. However, for Rockland tax payers, there is some help.

In the past years, people from outside Rockland with significant income, assets and financial resources have been purchasing and rehabilitating commercial buildings and multi and single-family residences, and even constructing new commercial buildings either as rental investments, or with the intent of living, or for use as seasonal homes. The city and school officials need to solicit and encourage these individuals to Rockland because with their assets, not only do they have the resources to undertake expensive renovation work and increase property values, but they also have the ability to pay the property taxes necessary for RSU 13 employees and their families’ healthcare, which will continue to increase over the life of the school union, as well as pay for the services required by the current and growing number of special needs students; most property owners probably don’t have the financial ability to pay for these educational costs, which will only increase over time and continue to rise.

Rodney Lynch

Rockland

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