Local Economic Situation Affecting Considerations
There is a large manufacturing jobs base in this city, and as those jobs have declined so too has the local economy and employment. About ten years prior to this writing, the state provided funding to help the district build a new high school; however, other buildings in the district are older than 40 years and are falling into disrepair. There was an effort to revitalize the downtown area—in the city’s historic center—that involved restoring and upgrading a few commercial buildings that also have apartments in upper floors. Those floors in at least one building were designated as housing for mentally ill persons receiving federal assistance. There are several federally-funded programs within the city that seem to comprise some portion of the city’s economy. There are no plans for residential housing development; though, there is a government-banking program to motivate residents to improve their homes—low interest rate financing on home improvements.
Interestingly, the unemployment rate in this city is the same as that of the wealthy district’s city; however, residents have jobs that provide lower incomes. Over 60% of the students in this district live in poverty. The median age is under 40 years; so, it is a younger population generally (www.city-data.com/city/b). This may be because of the affordability of housing; though, over 2/3 of housing in this city is rental property. While the wealthier district had a lower stay of residence once people moved in, the lower middle class city has a higher than average stay. This can suggest that people find the city appealing and stay longer; or, it means they are not able to move out to other cities—less mobile because of low incomes. Many of the teachers in the district have lived in the district all their life, having attended and graduated from the district. There is also a relatively large sector of retired residents who have lived in the city all of their lives. So, there is a strong local connection to the city; though, many are on fixed incomes or low incomes.
One may reasonably speculate that, because of the combination of the high rate of rental properties in the city and the high level of poverty among children in the school district (both over 60%), many of the rental units may be occupied by renters who receive federal support; so, they are on a fixed income. Consequently, there may be property owners who fear losing rental income with increased property taxes. The property tax they pay would increase, but the amount they could collect from rental fees would not increase. I posit this as a reasonable assumption, because the city has passed two income tax issues, increasing income taxes by .5% in just two years. So, citizens are willing to increase taxes, just not property taxes, evidently. This is phenomenon is of interest, further; because the city’s income tax rate is among the highest in the state, while its property tax rate is a bit lower than that in most cities in the county. This complicates the dynamics involved in the situation generally, because property owners who rent may pressure renters who are not on a fixed income or who are unaware of fixed rent rules into voting against a levy they would, otherwise, support.