CODFA President Jarman comments to BoT 02/09/2017

I was alerted to a recent article in the Glen Ellyn Patch about plummeting property values by our president. As the name suggests, Patch is a patchwork of miscellaneous stories and announcements of often obscure origin. This story originated with a website called the DuPage Policy Journal. I know not this particular organ, but I discerned from the content that it is a mouthpiece for advocates of lowering taxation. I admit that, at certain times of the year, I find myself in that camp. The objective of the piece is to place the entire blame for the cited decline in home values on increasing property taxes (and in part blaming school districts for the never-ending increases in the levy). The article also projected that property values would fall further based on that trend, with the subtext being that property tax increases would be the main driver.
This paints a frightening picture for the casual reader and of course would mobilize residents to oppose increases in the levy for schools in particular. However, closer inspection reveals a grotesque misapplication of the data and extrapolations thereof that an entry-level science student should scorn. Different stories can be woven by selective manipulation of data. Draw a line from 2007 and 2015 is to go from a pre-crash peak to a post-depression low. Property taxes had nothing to do with that decline. by 2015 the country was in the midst of recovering from that earlier disaster.
To predict further decline going forward based on the 2007 – 2015 trend is completely unsupported by the data. From 2012 – 2017, property values have shown a steady increase and a continuation of that steady growth is predicted going forward. Of course, recent events, which have nothing to do with property taxes, could yet upend all that; but that is another story.
My concern here is that these kinds of articles can reach a wide audience and have the potential to influence public opinion. As an advocate for wise and informed investment of public money in education, such as at College of DuPage, I think it is important that the data around property values, which obviously resonate with district residents, be portrayed accurately.