Dear Editor,

During the past eighty years I have seen a lot of political administrations and economic cycles come and go. We have had inflationary cycles, interest rate swings; in the 1970’s we had junk bonds paying an astounding 14% return. Excess consumer appetite had resulted in record personal debt. Banking regulations that were implemented after the Great Depression had been relaxed and watered down over the years leading to the crash of 2008 and leading to many banking and personal financial collapses. We all know friends and neighbors who lost their homes in that crash. I know of one local business that paid off mortgages for employees and held their land contracts to help employees maintain ownership of their homes. The crash of 2008 was the toughest I have seen during my lifetime.

I see some similarities in our economy today that raise concern. Credit card debt today exceeds one trillion dollars, a record high. The interest on the national debt is almost as much as the defense budget; the defense budget would be the largest line item in the budget, if we had a budget. They say if we paid the national debt off at a rate of one million dollars an hour it would take 3100 years to repay–that is without interest. Did you ever have a dead-beat brother-in-law who lived above his means and continually borrowed money from you? Eventually, you realize the chances of getting your money back are getting slimmer and slimmer. When will we cut spending and begin living within our nation’s means? Maybe soon; today there are people in Washington talking about a twenty percent cut in Social Security benefits within the next few years. I believe these concerns will affect almost everyone’s financial security in years to come.

We are being asked by the school board to accept a debt of $58 million plus $50 million in interest to be repaid over a period of 20 plus years. Supposedly two thirds of the bond dollars are earmarked for the much-needed renovations, and questionable additions to the existing campus to meet the needs of students and staff. The remainder of the bond dollars is intended for the construction of a two­acre field house. Many are asking, “can we afford the construction, maintenance and operating costs of the proposed 2-acre complex?” Some say the rental money derived from the field house will offset the maintenance and operating costs. I am not a fan of using school tax dollars to build rental property.

Do we have the tax base to afford the needed upgrades of the present-day campus AND construct the field house? Almont is a bedroom\ farming community. We lack any heavy hitters on our tax rolls, shopping malls, auto plants and dealerships, or major manufacturers. The 2020 census reported the median household income for the residents of Almont at $72,000; hardly an affluent community. With the economic concerns I mentioned in the above paragraphs, I personally would find it difficult to ask the citizens of Almont to accept this debt load, spanning a period of 20 plus years for a field house. Parents with young children would serve them well by investing those field house bond dollars in an educational fund to help pay their college tuition. By combining the needs of a school that has been described as in a state of total disrepair and the needs of students and staff; with the wants of a few individuals into a single bond and denying the taxpayers a choice the board has committed a disservice to the Almont Schools’ staff and students.

— Tom Janicki