Tax Dollars

School Beat — October 22, 2009

October 22, 2009 // 0 Comments

Your tax dollars… thank you! by CAROL HILLMAN Board of Education Trustee Every school year, the staff for the Rockford School District begins with a kick-off morning at Rockford High School. Support and teaching staff, along with administration and the school board, congregate in the auditorium and a motivating, fun-filled, informative event occurs. It’s a super way to get the engines running again on behalf of the students for the school year. It is planned in such a way that the entire staff looks forward to the morning, rather than feeling like “just one more meeting.” A statistic raised this year by Dr. Ryan Kelley sparked the writing of this article. Although the expansion of our athletic fields seems to be the most visible improvement to our district due to the bond passage in 2008, it represents the smallest amount of money devoted to improvements to our district. Only 13% of the money you voted to support our district’s constant desire to improve is supporting the wonderful additions to the athletic facilities for the school system. Another 17% of the bond is devoted to technology enhancements for our staff and students. Your tax dollars are a huge morale booster for our teachers to begin this school year. What a point of pride it is for them to have teaching materials like projector systems and audio enhancements that stimulate them, and allow the students to become more computer/technology savvy as well. Thanks to you, the tax supporter for education in our district, this is a reality in most of our buildings this year, and in all by next fall. The majority of the community supported the bond passage, of which 70% is devoted to new classrooms and renovations for the existing buildings that serve this district. It’s the “meat and potatoes” of what we need to continue to meet the needs of the students we serve. I invite you to take a personal tour of the district and, yes, look at the great new fields, but look a little deeper (like in the back) and discover the additions being built. One example alone—Cannonsburg Elementary, which is basically doubling in size—is so exciting to see. You deserve a bird’s-eye view of your tax dollars at work. Not […]

Rockford considers extending Downtown Development Authority 30 more years

August 20, 2009 // 0 Comments

The Downtown Development Authority (DDA) in Rockford may be extended another 30 years if the city council approves. The DDA is up for renewal in 2013 but Young said he hopes council will extend the tax dollar capture now. Young said it is possible future laws may prohibit the extension of DDAs and there is no reason to wait. The City created the DDA in 1984. DDAs take a percentage of tax dollars from the district—in this case Rockford’s downtown—and reinvest in that area. In Rockford the DDA has funded banners, light poles, benches, planters and paid for half of the purchase of the former Northland Pontiac property. “It is very effective,” said Young. “The downtown wouldn’t be what it is today without the DDA.” Kent County Administrator Daryl Delabbio said between DDAs, brownfields, smartzones and other tax capture or abatement programs the county loses use of $6 to $7 million dollars annually. He said there are 27 DDAs in Kent County. Delabbio was Rockford’s City Manager when Rockford created their DDA. He said the program has undeniably been good for the town, originally putting in the downtown clocks and other projects. The County cannot opt out of DDAs, but as they expire, the county can enter into new agreements where the County could have some say in tax dollar use, Delabbio explained. An example would be to exempt dollars voted upon for a specific use, such as correctional facilities or school millages. Floyd Havemeijer, Rockford business owner, said he was involved in the creation of Rockford’s DDA. “I was for it, but only if it would be for a limited time and expire,” he said. “It’s stealing from Peter to pay Paul. The schools and the county need the money so they have to raise taxes.” Delabbio said the law allows DDAs to exist forever, once created. Originally a county could opt out of DDAs if they desired, but in 1995 a law passed eliminating that option. “It’s up to them [city council],” Delabbio said. “If they want to extend it, there is nothing we can do about it.”