West Bench, Faulder, Okanagan Lake West
Thanks for the meaty comments Brian, here are some responses off the top of my head:
The tax cost is real but the property value loss is only real if you are selling your property.
Many people assume that older West Bench residents are the mostly likely to be opposed to a new tax. Ironically, the property value issue impacts older residents most because they are more likely to be selling en masse in the coming decade. By doing so they convert a theoretical paper loss into a realized loss.
The research shows a more or less instantaneous drop in property values after a school closure. It is reasonable to expect the drop to disappear over time as people forget there was ever a school there. The question is whether baby boomers (the oldest of whom are 71 years old) want to wait that long to to sell. My parents got out of their too-big West Bench house last summer. Just in time.
It could also be argued that the decreased property value has a benefit in lower property taxes.
Lower assessments do not necessarily mean lower property taxes. By way of background: The RDOS calculates the cost of running Area F services and divides that cost among participating properties. For most services the share a property pays is determined by its assessed value. So if everyone's assessment goes up or down, the shares remain roughly unchanged (and thus the tax burden remains unchanged). Having said this, a drop in assessed values on the West Bench would mean a tax savings for regional services (our assessments would drop relative to Naramata and Kaleden, for example, so their shares would climb relative to ours). But these regional expenses don't actually cost that much (see more on taxes here).
Having a timeline for when enrollment declines will turn around, and a clear explanation of how that would trigger a cessation of the tax would be important in getting votes off the fence.
I am not sure anyone can provide a credible timeline. In my initial proposal I suggested a five year renewable term with exit conditions for both parties. We take a look in five years and determine whether (a) things are turning around for our school or (b) the situation is increasingly futile. No one can predict that now. The inescapable fact is that we have gone through an unprecedented period of demographic stagnation in the Penticton area. I am not sure whether this is just a blip caused by several massive economic shocks or is the new normal. The fact that other Okanagan municipalities such as Lake Country and West Kelowna have grown aggressively suggests that policy can play a role.
If the motion to close is rescinded while we go through the process and it ends up in a no vote, it could possibly delay the closure process to the point where we have bought ourselves another year.
Yes, it will take until next year no matter what because the RDOS did not budget for this subsidy in 2016. We can only spend what we said we would spend (and have permission to spend). SD67 may, of course, request back payment of the 2016 subsidy. This would hurt a little bit.
Are we proposing this on a the economics or on the point of process, i.e, the fact that other schools with a grant were excluded?
Both. the primary argument in favor of the Board of Education accepting the proposal is that SD67 did not consider other rural schools for closure because of ~$150K grants. We would expect the same treatment obviously. Such grants helps the Board of Education solve a fairness issue on their end (specifically: why should the school district be subsidizing rural schools out of its operating funds).
The primary argument in favor of West Bench residents accepting the proposal is, I think, primarily economic.
Both the Board of Education and West Bench residents have to buy into this plan before it goes anywhere. In the absence of such support the grant proposal will simply go away.
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