The Great Billboard Controversy of Johns Creek

For several years now the interests of the Johns Creek residents have been growing in their desire to  both understand and participate in how their closest level of government-their city government- functions.

And, what many of have seen has not been exactly what we had hoped for.  Voter apathy has been mentioned often in City Council Meetings.  Lack of citizens showing up at City Hall for Council Meetings was evident.  City Council members tired of the same citizens making public comments.

Yet over the last three years there have been several events that have awakened the public, and coupled with more ways to have conversations (such as the Johns Creek Post and NextDoor) the genie is out of the bottle.  Public scrutiny is going to only grow. Continue reading

Are Our High Quality Schools Sustainable With High Density Housing?

There is another problem with High Density housing that you will not hear any politicians speak about in public.  I am not a politicians, and so I will.

The health of your schools is threatened with higher density housing.  Why?  Because a townhouse that sells for $300,000 will pay 1/2 the school taxes that a house that sells for $600,000 will.  If  both homes have two kids in school, the impact is significant. Throw an apartment complex into the equations and the fiscal impact on schools becomes even  more significant.

It costs $13,433 per student per year to educate children in Fulton County.  No small amount.  Property taxes are essential to school funding(especially those property taxes coming from people with no children in school).

Assuming 12 years of education per student, that totals  $161,196, quite a large sum.

For our example, we will consider an apartment, a townhome, and a single family home.

Based on my calculations from the number of units at some of our most valuable apartment complexes here in Johns Creek, an apartment unit is valued round 110,000 for tax purposes.

Apartment Townhome House
Value $110,000.00 $325,000.00 $500,000.00
School Taxes $1,284.05 $2,918.30 $4,961.11
Cost per Student 13433 13433 13433
% Covered 9.56% 21.72% 36.93%

(The above taxes are from the 2016 tax rates, and assume homestead exemptions have been applied for on the Townhome and house.)

As you can see, apartment dwellers and Townhome dwellers pay far less towards the education of a student than does a homeowner who lives in a more expensive property.

The math makes it clear.  If you continue to add more and more students who are in households contributing less to the cost of education, either property taxes will need to rise significantly or the cost of the education will need to drop sharply, reducing the quality of that education.

And none of this would even be possible today at these tax rates were it not for households with no children contributing to the system even though they have no children in school

Which leads us to this question:  How smart is it for communities to continue adding high density housing, which puts the same strain on school financing economics when you know that they are going to contribute substantially less to those very same schools?