This is a copy of an email that I sent to the LASD school board regarding the proposed renovations. Thank you.
I will not be able to make the meeting this evening due to conflicts, but I wanted to give you some input from a tax payer regarding the renovations to the Lehighton School District buildings. I understand the need for updates.
The buildings are old and out of date and the efficiency of the mechanical equipment is very poor. But the issue here is the "NEED". What should be concentrated on is the "NEED", not a bucket list of wants by individuals writing checks with other people's money. I would like to break it down into a few points of issues seriously effecting this project.
1. The economy is the prime issue in this project. The amount of money available from the tax payer to the school district is flat or declining. And the amount of industry/businesses to offset the taxpayer burden is ridiculously low in the district.
Suggestion – The Chamber of Commerce needs to get into serious high gear and work with the townships and municipalities to get more industry in the area. Not squash every attempt of a nationally or regionally owned business to come in because it is going to hurt one of the small local establishments. Those days are over and we need to open up the area. You can't expect the taxpayer to pay a $5K/yr. school tax bill when they are making $11/hr. at a local business. Example: Why is the plot in front of Walmart still not occupied? And we don't need another bank!
2. Enrollment is going down. My youngest son goes to Franklin Elementary. I have seen the class sizes shrink over the last few years. There is no justification for anything new when enrollment is being reduced on a constant basis.
3. Reduced residential tax base. Foreclosures and families being relocated because of employment (or lack thereof) is at an all-time high. New single family dwellings being built are nonexistent. There is a record amount of homes for sale in the area. You can't have a healthy tax base when a portion of your base is moving out. And you will have a serious problem trying to sell if the buyer knows about the planned tax increase. The wave of families from NJ with a lot of disposable money is gone.
4. Multipurpose sports complex. The issue of need is up on this one. There is a long list of items that should be taken care of before this should even be brought up. This is a complex where 90% of the tax-paying population will never step into. Reality check here.
Suggestion – If the district is serious about this, then it should be done the way a business/individual does it. The district should work with a bank to get a low rate on a loan and have the facility's proceeds pay for the complex. Entrance fees, concessions, etc. If the complex is utilized and scheduled in the proper manner, it will pay for itself. No tax burden on the residents and you still get the complex.
5. New Middle School. The district is beating a dead horse here. It was shot down already and should be left to die. It is not currently feasible economically even with the subsidy from the state and may cause a serious collapse of the financial basis of the district. You will get into a situation where allot of your tax payers will not be able to or refuse to pay the tax. If the district gets into an issue of default, it will go bankrupt. This is basic economics, not a conspiracy theory.
6. Public Vote. This issue should be on a public ballot. Have the residents vote on this issue. This issue is too large to have a few individuals on the school board decide. Their vote may or may not be the opinion/will of the tax-paying community.
Thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to express my thoughts.