We finally received our final assessment numbers from our attorney after having to fight the Northgate School District over their egregious attempt to increase our assessed property value by nearly $50,000 within months of purchasing it. We won our legal appeal, thankfully, but just out of sheer curiosity I wanted to see how the numbers would look if my house existed a block northeast of its current location in Ross Township. After crunching all the numbers (local municipal property taxes, school district property taxes, and county property taxes), all in, my annual property tax bill would be $1,116 lower if it could be uprooted and moved a stone’s throw from its current location. $1,116 less! As a father of two young children, as an entrepreneur, as simply a human being, I could do a lot with an additional $1,116 in my pocket! I’m sure you could too.
Now, let’s consider if the Northgate School Board goes through with its threats to take as much money as they can from those of us who own property in the Northgate School District over the next five years via the maximum allowable annual tax increases. First I had to determine what exactly the maximum allowable tax increases are for the Northgate School District. I found this article in the Trib which provides those exact figures. Feel free to check my math by clicking here. Over the next five years, our property taxes will increase a total of $493.19 making the total difference between my property in Bellevue versus an identical property in Ross Township $1,609.19 every year (of course, that’s assuming Northgate doesn’t try to reassess our property value again within that same period of time and the North Hills school district doesn’t also pursue a tax increase).
Numbers so dramatically different like this would force any rational person to seriously assess what they are getting for their money. If you were searching for a product or service and discovered you could spend $1,609.19 less for not only a similar product, but a demonstrably superior product/service, why would you NOT choose it? Most people live under the impression that you “get what you pay for.” However, when it comes to competing school districts, at least in this case, it seems to be the exact opposite.
Compare the online reputation of the Northgate and North Hills School Districts…
According to Niche.com (a very popular school district ranking website frequented by those considering where to purchase a home when moving to an area), North Hills School District earns an “A” for its “Overall Grade” while Northgate earns a “C+.” Whereas North Hills is awarded an “A” in each of the following categories – academics, clubs/activities, teachers, health and safety, and college prep – Northgate earns three C’s and two B’s in the same areas. The only category in which Northgate outshines North Hills according to Niche.com is in the category of “diversity.” In this category, Northgate earns an “A-” while North Hills earns a “C+.”
In every single category where North Hills shines, Northgate reportedly struggles. In the single category where Northgate shines, North Hills reportedly struggles.
Additionally, the North Hills School District, like Northgate, is landlocked. There is very little room for land development and population growth among both districts.
In other words, it’s almost too perfect how much these two districts would benefit each other.
- Whereas Northgate property owners are literally getting raked over the coals by some of the highest taxes in the county and state, those who own property in the North Hills School District have little reason to complain (this is in large part to a large commercial sector within the district).
- Whereas the overall reported “Grade of education” is weak at Northgate, North Hills ranks quite high (among the top in the state, actually).
- Whereas North Hills reportedly struggles in the area of diversity, Northgate has a lot to offer in this area.
- And, finally, whereas both Northgate and North Hills School Districts are landlocked with practically no means for expansion and growth, a merger of the two districts would provide instant growth in terms of students, teachers, facilities, and resources to offer greater opportunities for all of our children.
If I haven’t made it apparent yet, I am an outspoken advocate for the proactive merger of the Northgate and North Hills School Districts. From every possible angle, it makes a lot of sense. Despite being a Northgate graduate and the sentimental value I will always place in being considered a “Flame,” I honestly struggle to find any reason to oppose such a proposition especially when you look at the dark horizon that looms over all small and struggling school districts in the form of pension obligations and aging facilities. As a resident, as a taxpayer, and as a lifelong servant of the Northgate community, I am pleading that the members of the Northgate School Board explore a merger with North Hills. Do it now, while we still can.