As I was writing up last night's story on Racine Unified's reinvestment presentation, one nagging thought came to mind: Just how many homeowners living within the school district own that $100,000 home on which taxes would rise $92 to $120 per year?
Keep in mind, we're not chastising Unified for using the $100,000 figure; every taxing body does when talking about bonding costs. Still... how relevant is it, except as a starting point?
I called Jim Ladwig, County Registrar of Deeds, who set me onto Patrick J. Harmann, manager of the Real Property Lister's Office. Pat sent me voluminous spreadsheets listing far more information than I needed, but it came down to this. We divided the total assessed valuation of all residential property by the number of homes in each community to come up with an average figure. The value of undeveloped homesites slightly skews the resulting average home value figure, but it's the best we can do.
In any case, here's what the numbers show:
If I've calculated the math correctly, the average home within the school district is assessed at $168,695. (Total value of $7,576,936,310 divided by the number of homes: 44,915.)
Someone else had second thoughts about a set of numbers. Caledonia Unplugged took exception to David Hazen's bar chart comparing the amount spent per student by Unified, before and after referenda costs are calculated, with other area districts and the state average. Nobody's questioning the actual figures, but Caledonia Unplugged says the graphic, taken from one of Dave Hazen's slides, "struck me as disingenuously intended to amplify this supposed difference."
Here's Hazen's bar chart, followed by one from Caledonia Unplugged. Clearly, depending on where you set the X axis changes the graphic representation of the difference in spending among districts. Caledonia Unplugged set his at $0, thus minimizing the representation of the different spending levels. Hazen did the opposite.