G.Y. is no financial boon to school district

Published May 18, 2016 by justicewg

bethcollier2010School treasurer Beth Collier had a story in the TVN about the financial issues we will see as the Yard gets built up. I missed noting the story when it first was published in April 2016, but it was an important document that should be linked and read.

TL,DR – Because the school board negotiated TIF agreements with NRI that mostly sent additional property tax money back into the infrastructure costs of the Yard, the school will see no windfall (until 2040, when the agreement expires.) “New funding generated by Grandview Yard has totaled $1,061,000 since 2010, which was less than 1% per year.”

If you are licking your chops over all that tax money to come after 2040, just remember that the City Center Mall was also a development that was supposed to provide taxes for Columbus after the TIF agreements ended. That didn’t work as planned. Money that arrives in 25 years goes into the Chicken and Hatch folder.

Something that wasn’t mentioned in the story – there have been very few children added to the school system so far from the apartments in the Yard. The single family homes that are under construction will add a few, but the total student additions are expected to be small. The school board would probably like you to think that there are more students on the way, so they can push for new school buildings. It just isn’t going to happen.

Also, the story in the TVN is about property tax. That is where all the money for the schools in Grandview comes from (well, a few other sources like the state, but that has been decreasing). There are other school districts in Franklin County, like Bexley, who have an income tax for the school. I’m surprised there was no mention of the possibility of an income tax for the school. I’m sure the board will be pushing that idea when they fail the first levy for building new schools.

Tangential to this story but worth noting – the TVN story has a Grandview Heights school logo as the illustration to this story, apparently it was one of the older designs that was still in use. Notice how it has the two initials of the school connected, but not overlapping, so the sequence and lettering is clear. Too bad that was one item in the historical past of the school that the board didn’t want preserved.

If you are wondering “why is the school Treasurer going public with a story about the G.Y. money, it has been a known issue for years?”, like everything else the board does now, it’s about managing perception of school funding in preparation for building new school buildings. If there are people who think the school is like the city and has significant new money on the way from the Yard, it impairs the ability to ask for new levies.

Previously – Read the post on the city blog by then President Panzera about the city’s tax income from the Yard. Although the story is a little dated (2014), it is a good overview.

(Update May 2017 ) Collier wrote a story for the TVN that is an almost identical to last year’s reminder that the Yard will not be a big source of funds for the schools. I guess that it is a message that needs to be repeated, low information voters can look at all the new buildings going up in the Yard and think that it must be creating a wave of new funding for the schools.

I think Collier will be putting this story on constant repeat, there is little chance the board can pass big new levies for building new schools as long as some percentage of voters still think the Yard will solve our school funding issues.

4 comments on “G.Y. is no financial boon to school district

  • I wish I could agree with you regarding the first building levy attempt failing, but I really don’t see Grandview voting against any school levy. The community just loves the school district, and we have such a terrific group of top-notch citizens on the school board. If you ask around town, that’s exactly what people will tell you. “Oh, our school district is not perfect – nothing is perfect – but these are really fine people who have figured out a way to give our kids a wonderful education.”

    I wish more people read “Watching Grandview Heights.” We have hopelessly uninformed voters in this town.

    There are wonderful people who live in Grandview – truly, some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet – but many will have to leave because of the insane property taxes. When this happens, a more affluent population will move in to take advantage of the good school district. This is exactly what people like Grant Douglass want to happen. Get rid of the nice older couple who live down the street, and replace them with an investment banker and his trophy wife.

  • I too encourage everyone to become educated voters, because in my experience the school board and administration are being VERY clear about the fact that the need for new facilities has absolutely nothing to do with any anticipated school population increased due to the GY developments. The population projections are a part of the district’s regular budgeting process, as well as the ongoing long-term facilities planning process – and the current buildings have physical capacity for an additional 500 students, and the Yard is not forecast to add anything approaching that (<100). I've heard that straight from Beth Collier and Andy Culp, who have been very transparent about these facts. That said, aging infrastructure and rapidly increasing maintenance and capital improvement costs ARE a big issue for the schools (and, consequently, for taxpayers). There is a process over the next 12-15 months to engage the entire community in a conversation about these issues, and I would encourage everyone to get involved when the opportunity arises – but I would also encourage folks not to link the school facilities issues to any belief that the Yard is adding an influx of students that requires adding more space.

    • Please re-read the story in the TVN that Treasurer Collier wrote. This story would have been the most appropriate place to make it known that the Grandview Yard development is not going to add significant numbers of new students – yet it contained nothing about that issue.

      Please point me to any public writing where the board or the administration has been transparent about those facts. I see nothing in any of their public statements.

    • You mention getting involved when the opportunity arises. I’ve been to a couple of these “community input” meetings, and the citizens of Grandview really are not permitted get very involved.

      When they ran the last levy campaign, they had meetings for community input. At these meetings, they started out by telling us that the financial situation is extremely dire despite the board’s herculean efforts at reducing spending. This quickly led to the conclusion that a levy was essential. No community input on that matter.

      Then, they tossed out three ideas: A levy to raise $X million, a levy to raise $Y million, and a levy to raise $Z million. Spirited discussion ensued. Grant Douglass pretended to support the lowest dollar amount, using some marvelous drama that proves he has the average Joe’s best interests in his heart. But the other board members cheerfully pointed out that they really need more tax dollars (other people’s money) in order to keep our school district great. Community members were able to chime in here and there about things they like and want to preserve.

      In the end, the conclusion was reached to try for the $Y million levy. Grant gave it the old “shucks, I wanted to go for less $$, but you folks really raised some good points, and I’ll support your decision.” When they ran the levy, the board said they asked for input for the community and listened to what people had to say.

      From this experience, I can tell you how the board will involve the community in their decision about new facilities. First, you will learn for the first time how truly disgusting our existing facilities are. Who would send their kids into such schools? Aren’t you concerned for their health?

      Then, they’ll show how much $$ it will cost to keep things as they are and stay in the old run-down facilities. (The $$ amount will be greatly overstated, and probably include costs for cutting the grass.) Next, they’ll talk about how much $$ it will take to build the greatest school buildings ever. (This $$ amount will be understated.)

      Then, discussion – with community input – will begin. A couple friends of the school board – John Wagner appropriately called them “lickspittles” once – will start things off by saying that the board has done a truly wonderful job, that the community is lucky to have such a terrific school board, and that anybody who would oppose the idea of new facilities really must be either crazy or nasty. Several such people will make these comments before the first person steps up and shares a different opinion or asks a serious question. Angry stares will be directed at this person. Good-old-boy Grant Douglass will smile and explain that all opinions are welcome. Then, several more lickspittles will kiss the board’s collective behind and thank them for being so wonderful.

      After this emotional meeting, the school board will report that they’ve listened to the community, and that the community really wants new facilities!! Get your wallets out!!

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