I read with some interest the Mpls Daily Planet article on “School Tax Levies”. I agree with much the author says about the obligation of the State to fund education. Though I certainly disagree about the cause for the poor education offered to less advantaged children in Minneapolis. That poor education is because of systemic failure, not because of funding.
In my opinion the use of such special levies to fund normal operational costs of schools is political fraud. The purpose of such “Special ” levies is to fund “special” costs in and above normal operating costs.
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There were several reasons the referendum passed in Minneapolis. One was the incredible guilt laid on voters by the professional P.R. group supporting it. A vote against the referendum was portrayed as being a vote against children and their education. Did anyone notice any “professional” efforts to oppose the referendum? Any campaign at all? No, only one perspective was sent out because that was where the money was. No matter how wrong headed a referendum is NO one is going to fund a campaign that might be viewed as anti-children.
Secondly, with the large renter population in Minneapolis there was the inference that a renter could vote for the referendum and it would not cost anything since it added taxes to the property the landlord would be paying anyway and NOT you. Of course this is absolutely wrong. The Renter ALWAYS pays for any increase in taxes and “Fees” that the City tacks on. Rents increase to cover cost of operation.
To allow renters to be informed of what the actual cost to them is of City actions I propose to have rental leases specifically list that cost. Sort of like what the property tax statement is laid out as. Have basic actual rental costs for the unit – plus an actual amount for taxes and fees.
School Excess Levy =…..$
Storm Water tax =………..$
Lighting Levy =……………$
In this way there is a “Truth In Rental Housing Costs” way for renters to know what the actions of politicians is costing them and the politicians have less chance of hiding from their constituents the real cost of their actions or their mismanagement. I think there would be a bit more outrage if a renter looked down at their rent that month and found a “Meet Minneapolis” or “Target” waste line item cost, but that might be a little long in the bill.
So I suggest to all rental property owners that they begin having leases that specify rental costs plus a sliding scale for City and State taxes and “Fees”. In fact start the practice with the next rental cycle. Mail a notice to every renter that their rent will increase by this amount due to the following actions of City government. The “Special Levy for Schools”, and “Storm Water” costs is a good place to start. I KNOW renters have NO idea what these two items will cost them.
Informed voters do make more informed selections when they fill in the blanks on that voting form. Renters who vote should KNOW what their votes would cost THEM. To not do so is political slight of hand. They should KNOW which politician has raised their rent.