A number of residents have contacted me about the effect of the Town Center on our schools. They were concerned about some information that has been circulated. It is almost entirely inaccurate but, by trying to scare school families, it does a particularly great disservice.
The fact is that the Town Center helps the finances of our excellent public schools.
- The Town Center apartments add very few kids to the school district. For example, the 81-unit apartment project known as The Reserve has 9 kids in the school system, and at least four of them lived in Mequon before their parent(s) moved to The Reserve.
- Currently and for the next several years, Town Center property owners will pay about $328,000 each year directly to the school district. Those are taxes on about $41 million of value that was there before the TIF district was created. That more than covers the marginal cost of the few new Town Center kids who attend the public schools.
- When the TIF district ends in about eight years, properties in the Town Center will contribute over $1.5 million every year to the school district. That is because, if nothing more happens in the district except the projects that are already underway, there will be a guaranteed $154 million of new development. That will result in over $2.275 million in new taxes paid every year. The school’s share (over $1.2 million) plus the $328,00 already being paid exceeds $1.5 million. The number will certainly be higher than that because of other development and the appreciation of properties.
- An argument has been made that each additional school child costs MTSD about $11,000 per year. That is untrue. The actual additional cost per child is quite small. Most school costs do not change because of a small number of additional children. Costs for administrators, maintenance, janitorial, heat and other utilities and other building costs do not go up or down based on small changes in the number of kids. The kids in the Town Center are spread throughout grades; therefore, it is highly unlikely that they will have any impact on the number of teachers or other staff.
- The school district voted to support the Town Center redevelopment, because it saw how our kids would benefit. Each year, representatives affirm that support.
The school district and the city will financially benefit from the Town Center for many decades. Plus, environmentally contaminated land has been cleaned up, empty and dilapidated buildings have been removed, and we have new restaurants and shops.
I would never vote for anything that would harm our excellent schools. Our schools are one of the primary reasons people move to Mequon. I have voted against proposed Mequon TIFs and against proposed developments in TIFs. They should be used sparingly and smartly but in the right circumstances, when they are objective and have a modest incentive, they can provide tremendous returns.