Will School Bond Raise Rent?

Photo credit: Megan Stoneberger Johnson
Note: A condensed version of this article ran as a Letter to the Editor in The Morning Sun

“What is the deal with all these ‘Vote No’ signs?”


A friend asked me this at recent holiday party.  He recounted to me how his landlord had stuck such a sign in his yard (with no discussion, of course). Before moving on to more festive conversation, I explained to him that the signs refer to the upcoming USD 250 bond issue and several members of the Pittsburg Area Property Owners Association have come out against it.

This discussion got me wondering, however: With the Property Owners Association behind the Vote No campaign, how many of the signs I had seen around town were placed in front of rental properties by their landlords? With more than half the houses in Pittsburg being rentals, are landlords, in fact, using the number and visibility of their properties to influence public perception of the opposition? Driving around town, I took an informal survey of the locations of many of these “Vote No” signs. 56 of the 73 signs I was able to confirm ownership of were placed on rental properties, 19 of which are owned by non-Pittsburg residents.


These rental property owners, with their wealth in property assets (as well as rental income), do face a higher property tax burden than the average homeowner in Pittsburg. And several have promised that this cost will have to be passed on to their tenants, many of whom have low incomes. But how much will the bond truly cost area landlords?  


Property ownership and assessed value are public knowledge and can be found here. Using this information and applying the residential mill levy increase formula produces interesting results. For example, MidAmerica Properties owns 92 residential rental units valuing a total of $2,868,820. Based on the value of each of those rental units, if this property owner chooses to pass the tax burden on to tenants, the average monthly cost per rental unit to cover the bond will be $3.68 per month — well under the monthly $9 an owner of an $80,000 home would pay. Similar rates were found to be true for other landlords: $3.75 per month per rental unit would cover the tax increase of Duncan Housing LLC’s rental properties; $3.79 per unit per month would cover the tax increase of Jeff & Cheryl Brooks’ rental properties; Skip Urich (a very vocal opponent of the school bond) could cover the tax increase on his three residential rental properties with $3.13 per month per rental unit.  


So, are a few property owners exaggerating the cost to renters to defeat the bond? Will the landlords who have warned of the increased cost to renters only raise the rent $3 per month to merely cover the tax increase? Or, will the mill levy be used as an excuse to price gouge Pittsburg renters? After all, according to the Kansas Tenants Handbook, Kansas landlords can raise rent as much and as often as they like.


Curious how much the bond will cost you or your landlord? Simply search for the property on the Crawford County Parcel Search to find the property’s assessed value, then follow these steps to calculate the annual tax increase for residential property. Divide this amount by 12 to figure the monthly cost.  

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UPDATE: The figures reported here include residential properties only; commercial properties were not accounted for as the piece focuses on the cost to residential renters. Property owners mentioned in this piece were investigated due to the number of signs observed on their properties –MidAmerica Properties: 6 of 73; Duncan Housing LLC: 6 of 73; Jeff & Cheryl Brooks: 8 of 73.

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