Herald JournalHerald Journal, June 23, 2003

HLWW seeking $47.7 million bond, $661,041 levy

By Julie Yurek

Residents of the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted School District will vote on a $47.7 million building bond this fall.

The district will also ask for an operating/learning levy of $661,041.

The issues were addressed at last Monday's meeting. The operating levy reflects $525 per pupil unit, said Kristen Hanson of Ehlers and Associates of Roseville.

The $47.7 million bond would include land acquisition for a k-12 grade school site, water and sewer, land acquisition for a future Winsted elementary, construction costs, technology, football stadium, ball field, soccer field, furniture, fixtures, equipment, and bus garage.

"The project costs reflect a solid, practical, functional building and site that is neither a Cadillac nor a Pinto," said Lee Meyer of KKE Architects.

The board also needed to decide on a 20, 25, or 30 year bond length.

The general consensus was 20 years, with Chairman James Raymond liking 25 years, he said. Council member John Lideen was absent.

Board members wanted the 20 year span because of interest accumulation.

Farmers would pay on taxes on their entire property, Hanson said.

"What if the building costs come in at $5 million less?" asked board member Charlie Borrell.

"The district can only spend it on items that are specified," Hanson said. It could include pre-paying bonds, she added.

"What if it costs more than we expected?" asked board member Alan Doering.

There is a contingency fee included for any runover, Meyer said.

Operating/learning levy

The tax impact of the levy on a $100,000 home is $134, Hanson said. On a $150,000 it is $201. (See table)

Hanson pointed out that agricultural property will only pay taxes for the proposed levy based only on the value of the house, garage, and one acre of land, she said. Seasonal residential property owners, i.e. cabins, do not pay taxes on the levy.

The district currently has a small operating levy that is payable in 2008, said Supt. George Ladd. The levy is from the consolidation of HLWW with Winsted.

Some property owners may qualify for a state property tax refund under the "circuit breaker" program, Hanson said.

The refund is based on their income and total property taxes, she said. The refund will decrease the net effect of the levy for many property owners, she said.

"If the district wants to lower the levy, can it?" Borrell asked.

The board can ask for the public to vote for lowering the levy, Hanson said. "The district just can't go over the maximum that the voters approved."

The district is required to send first class mailings to all property owners for the levy and first class mailings to all registered voters for the bond, Hanson said.

"What if more people move into the district or property values go up? How would those things affect the levy?" Doering asked.

Property taxes would go down, Hanson replied.

The county would refigure property taxes, Ladd said.

The board will be scheduling meetings in August and September to give the public more exact figures and an opportunity to ask questions, Ladd said.

Numbers are always changing from the state, he said.

The board tabled working on the ballot wording until the July meeting.

Land search to use committee criteria

The board discussed how to go about finding land for a building site.

The board would like to have a site location by the September board meeting, according to Meyer in meeting minutes with the district building committee.

Potential building sites will be scored on a scale of one to five, five being the best, according to architectural/engineering criteria, community criteria, and cost criteria.

An independent Realtor will be conducting the search using the building and grounds committee criteria.

Site size guidelines will also be included on the site evaluation sheet. The Department of Education guidelines set the size of a combined school site between 57 and 67 acres of useable land.

Once land that qualifies is identified, the owner will be contacted, Meyer said.

He would prefer to see only one owner involved instead of multiple owners because if even one of the owners dropped out, the whole project would be halted, he said.

Raymond recommended the Realtor look only one to two miles from a sewer and water line and to look at all three communities.

Another criteria is to have the site within one mile of a seven-ton road, with the assumption that Highway 12 and Wright County Roads 6, 7, and 8 meet that criteria. A seven-ton road is necessary so busses and delivery vehicles aren't restricted during the year due to weight restrictions, Ladd said.

The east side of Waverly, south side of Winsted, or the northwest side of Howard Lake will not be included in the land search because of other school districts located nearby, Meyer said.

Other business

In other matters, the board:

· approved to have all staff development done in-house to cut down on costs. In a normal year for staff development, the district sets aside about two percent in the budget. The district is projecting a $221,878 budget shortfall.

· approved accepting bids for for bakery, dairy, snow removal, and waste removal services.

· accepted the resignation of Brad Robinson, speech and language teacher, and the termination of a two hour dishwasher position.

Robinson served the district for 23 years.

· approved hiring Jason Kuehn as an elementary teacher and Jennifer Mielke as a long-term substitute for fifth grade teacher Pat Weseloh.

· the board recognized the HLWW jazz band for its performance at the employee recognition breakfast June 9.

The board also recognized the players and coaches of the class A state champions Laker baseball team. with a round of applause.

· was informed by High School Principal Mike Day that open house for the high school next fall is changed from Thursday, October 2 to Monday, October 6.

Day also informed the board that $26,000 in scholarships from local organizations were awarded to this year's graduating class.

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