How Much Can You Afford?
We all want Euclid’s students to have the very best. Just as we strive to give our own families the best we can afford, we strive to provide the best teachers, the best curriculum and the best learning environment for our public school students. However, Issue 111 isn’t about curriculum and it isn’t about teachers- it’s solely about buildings. So, why am I voting “no”? Simply put, what we strive to afford and what we can afford are often two very different things. At this time, the majority of Euclid taxpayers cannot afford this tax increase.
Euclid residents that vote in favor of this issue are voting not only with their own dollars, but also with their neighbor’s wallet. So, it’s important to consider our neighbor’s situation, too. Most of us are too proud or too polite to discuss finances in public settings. However, this issue has opened up a lot of dialogue about the struggles that exist within our community. I’ve learned about one neighbor’s enormous out-of-pocket prescription costs of $1,500 per month- costs that were unforeseen, yet are now crucial to survival. Another neighbor left an unsafe environment and is now raising her children as a single parent. She disclosed that 100% of her paycheck goes to bills, leaving no extra cash to pay for “luxuries,” such as living room furniture or a mattress for her bed. She literally sleeps on an air mattress, so that her children can have food on the table and a safe place to lay their heads at night. Another neighbor stated that her household's budget is so tight that any increase will mean her mother can't afford Insulin. I’ve heard about the burden that a lack of busing causes for working parents of Euclid High School students that live outside of a reasonable walking distance. Some opt for RTA passes and others opt for Uber. All accept an additional expense that they didn’t anticipate- one that strains their bank account. Many seniors have mentioned the “straw that broke the camel’s back” aspect of an additional tax, in ways that make the “golden years” sound anything but golden.
However, the weight of this tax increase is not restricted to seniors alone. Young families may face college loan debt, mortgage payments and childcare costs while also attempting to save for retirement and their children’s education. Oddly enough, the terms of this bond repayment last longer than standard college or mortgage loans and long enough for a typical family to have grandchildren age out of the need for childcare! Those of us that are hopeful that we’ll live to see the end of this repayment plan in 37 years have no real idea what our retirement accounts will look like. Yet we’re already being asked to commit a portion of our 401Ks to this construction project.
Euclid’s 2014 median household income was a mere $36,128. 19.8% of our households survive on less than $15,000 per year. Another 28.9% of them earn less than $34,999. That’s over $8,000 less than the median income in Cuyahoga County as a whole and over $10,000 less than comparable Cleveland suburbs. We already struggle to pay some of the highest property taxes in the state, with only a fraction of the income. Our median home sale price fell 44.7% between 2007 and 2013 and now stands at $52,657. Property taxes on that home value amount to roughly $2,000 per year and would rise another $150 if Issue 111 passes. That means an average Euclidian living in an average Euclid home already spends about 5% of their income on property taxes- and another 2.85% on city income taxes. If you earn more, spend less or have options that include cutting things like pizza delivery or carryout coffee, I’d ask you to consider what your neighbors can afford before you vote with their wallet. Or, in this case, what they cannot afford. The property value you save may be your own.