Northville residents have been paying roughly a third less in school taxes than their counterparts in nearby Mayfield on homes of comparable value. So why should they vote to approve a merger with Mayfield Tuesday that will result in an immediate 10 percent tax hike? That’s the $64,000 question, to which the answer can only be $18 million.
That’s how much in state incentive aid the combined district would receive over the ensuing 15 years, an amount large enough to not only help limit future tax hikes but allow it to avoid making the kinds of deep budget cuts that both districts have had to make in recent years and are likely to continue having to make as enrollments decline and costs go up.
In other words, the kids of both districts would benefit as programs like athletics and electives that now limp along or have been eliminated will once again be affordable.
As retired Northville teacher and resident Barbara Spaeth wrote in a letter to this newspaper Dec. 14, all residents of a community benefit when the quality of its schools is perceived as good.
So while it’s true that Northville residents would initially get stuck with higher tax bills as a result of a merger, eventually they would benefit — substantially, according to a BOCES budget projection: Taxes would rise 20 percent over the next five years without a merger vs. stabilizing for 10 years with one.
Some things in life are worth paying for, and quality education is one of them. Northville taxpayers, who rejected a similar plan 16 months ago, need to remember that and take the long view about the initial tax hike. In just a few years, not only would this move pay for itself, Northville’s students will be the better for it.