Last year, pieces of the ceiling at Lalor Elementary School fell on risers where students had been standing just moments prior.

We agree with the people in the Hamilton Post February edition Inbox (“District should live within means”). Just another reminder, too, we were just reassessed last year, and our taxes went up $1,000. So, my question is, “Where is that money going that we need this referendum?”

We’ve already paid as far as I’m concerned! Another $51 a year! We are retired, and that’s a lot to expect. Why hasn’t this been done all along? Now we need to do this? Well, we have already paid with the new assessment on our taxes, and why is no one asking that question about the assessment on properties in the township?

— Kathleen Thompson

Hamilton Post editor Rob Anthes responds:

Thanks for your letter, Kathleen. You are not alone in your feeling. But, if I may, I’d like to address two items you reference in your note that can be complicated and deserve further explanation.

First, the referendum would not raise taxes $51 for every taxpayer. The exact amount is based on the value of your home. The school district used $51 as an example, since that is what the owner of the “average” property in town would pay. Some would pay less than $51. Others would pay more.

Second, the municipal government and the school district are not collecting more in taxes after last year’s revaluation. That’s illegal.

Just like the price of a cup of coffee or a gallon of gas changes over time, so do the values of homes. While a business can change its prices every time the value of its items change, towns can’t do that with homes. So, what a revaluation does is correct, for the tax rolls, the home values that naturally changed over time. Before last year, the last time there was a revaluation in Hamilton was in 1999—that’s 17 years worth of price changes.

If a homeowner’s taxes increased by $1,000 after the revaluation, that means the value of this person’s home has increased. Elsewhere in the township, someone saw his/her tax bill decrease by $1,000 since that home was deemed to be less valuable now. Person A paid $1,000 more, Person B paid $1,000 less, and the net result for the township tax rolls is zero. Nothing more or less was collected than before the revaluation. The municipal government and the school district have the same amount of money as it did before.

While it is difficult to swallow any tax increase—especially a jump of $1,000—no one has paid for anything new as a result of the revaluation. The tax increase merely offsets those who have seen their taxes go down. That’s why no one has asked about the new assessment on properties in the township—because the revaluation has no effect on this proposed referendum.