Regardless of Outcome on Referendum, 'I Lose'

RECEIVED Wed., Oct. 15, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Let me get this straight. In November, as a homeowner, I have to vote as to whether to voluntarily raise my taxes so that I, as an Austin Independent School District teacher, can get a 3% raise. I feel like I'm in the middle of some kind of weird shell game.
    I can tell you that as a teacher with 19 years of experience, I have seen virtually no increase in my net pay during the past five years because any raises I have received have been swallowed up by the rising cost of family health insurance (this year my net pay actually went down). Last year I paid a whopping $837 per month to have my family insured. This year it's $891 a month. Can you believe AISD can't do any better than that? With my obscene property taxes set at about $7,000 a year (for a two-bedroom house in Clarksville built in the Thirties) I continue to fall further and further into debt for the "privilege" of teaching young adults.
    But hey, what's another $50 to $100 on my tax bill if it'll give me a raise that doesn't even cover an increase in the cost of living. If AISD and the city of Austin are trying to push experienced teachers out of the profession and out of the area, they're doing a really good job of it. No matter which way I vote on the upcoming referendum, I lose.
James Maxfield
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