By Lindsay Durler, Administrator, Wheatridge Park Care Center, Liberal
It’s no secret that with the aging of our population medical costs are on the rise. With the average life expectancy on the rise, it is estimated that as many as 70 percent of people currently over age 65 will need long-term care at some point in their remaining lifetime.
The population of people older than age 65 is expected to reach 55 million by the year 2020, but yet only 8.1 million Americans have long-term care insurance.
The average median household income in the United States was $51,000 a year but yet a recent Forbes Magazine article estimated that more than 75 percent of Americans reaching retirement age had saved less than $30,000.
Millions of Americans living off of Medicare and social security after their assets are liquidated and their families are left with the burden of covering the remainder of the bills. Why is this? There are two primary reasons, while affordability is often cited as the problem; lack of planning is usually the real culprit. In lieu of paying known insurance premiums and ratable retirement savings overtime, they are faced with huge bills, few choices and very little control of their situation later in life. The time to plan for the future is today.
It seems to me that trends seen in retirement planning are mirrored in our local schools. For years our response has been that “we can’t afford it”, so, rather than continually making systematic improvements with predictable costs, we have added “portable classrooms,” Duct tape and bandages to get by with no real plan for the future. I recently sat in on a presentation by the school district and the Citizens for Responsible Growth group that outlined the upcoming school bond proposal and I was impressed with what I heard.
These groups utilized the work of a Vision team to come up with a practical plan that can work. I was pleased to hear that with the input from the community they had reduced more than $30 million from the initial plan but still had something that fixed our current problems and positions us well for the future. As a local business, taxes are always a concern of ours but we realize that they are a necessary evil to facilitate the basic core of our communities.
I commend the work that has been done by the planning committees to find external funding for 71 percent of the bill. Unless I believe our schools need no improvements for the next decade, property taxes covering $36 million is a great value.
I have two daughters in elementary school and am well aware that the problems the bond seeks to address are not going away without action. A no vote will not result in $0 in spending, rather it will result in unpredictable spending with no real plan that maxes the allowable Local Option Budget and still raises taxes. My real concern is that if we don’t support the financially sound plan in front of us with property owners shouldering only 29 percent of the bill, we will go it alone in the near future covering 100 percent of the costs.