Auburn citizens will make the choice on Sept. 24 on whether or not to raise property taxes in the City to fund the construction of a new high school and renovations to existing campus within Auburn City Schools.
There have been proponents and opponents of this special tax election, but Charlie Duggan, Auburn City Manager, believes there has also been misinformation within the community.
“The things I hear are mostly the people I know who are in their mid-40s with kids in the school system,” Duggan said. “They want to know when the new high school will be built, and I tell them that the tax has to pass, and they’re like, ‘oh great, when is the vote?’
“They’re for it. I travel in different worlds than other people, and there are those who are against it. One of the big things is the misinformation, the 180 percent increase. We had a letter to the editor in the OA News talking about how taxes were going up this huge amount. Since then, he has been instructed otherwise.”
The proponent website (voteyesacs.com) has a slider at the bottom of the webpage that can be moved to indicate to what a piece of property is worth, and it will tell how much the increase will be for that property owner.
Property taxes will go from 54 mills to 63 mills if the nine mill increase is approved by the citizens of the Auburn, according to Duggan.
“That’s the problem with people, like the guy who wrote the letter to the editor (mentioned above); he thought the mill was going from five mills, and that’s incorrect, but that’s what the anti-tax PAC are putting out there.,” Duggan said “It (the opposition) says 180 percent increase.
“If you want to say it’s a 900 percent increase over one mill, that’s essentially what they’re doing. Roughly, it’s $90 per every $100,000 on a home.”
Radio ads have been running on local radio stations in Auburn tying the recent allegation against the Auburn Police Department and their alleged ticket-writing quota.
“I think the opposition to the tax, it’s their benefit to confuse the people as much as possible, and then the other thing is tying in the alleged quota system by the police,” Duggan said. “That has nothing to do with the tax and funding the schools and they’re running radio ads that are saying that city officials approved the quotas.
“One supervisor for one shift was telling his guys, trying to motivate them, but poorly; he was telling them to make certain numbers and as soon as the police chief found out about that, he stopped it. That was a year ago. That’s part of the interesting misinformation with all of this.”
Duggan contends that the opposition is feeding on people’s fear and disgust of quota systems that never existed to try to turn them off from the tax.
“What that says to me is that they don’t have a good argument against the tax. I expect more of that within the next six weeks,” Duggan said. “It’s going to be unrelated to quality education and the needs of the school system to provide a safe place for the kids to go to school; instead, they’re going to tie in anything they can to get people to feel bad about government.”
City officials say that while they defend the integrity of Auburn Police Division and the City of Auburn against these allegations, the property tax referendum isn’t about the police and it isn’t about government.
“It’s about education,” David Dorton, the City of Auburn’s Public Affairs Director. “One hundred percent of the property tax increase, if approved, will go to Auburn City Schools to help them build a new high school so that they can maintain excellent facilities and continue to provide an excellent standard of education as they grow.”