Voters say 'no' to HLWW, Buffalo-Hanover-Montrose

November 12, 2007

By Lynda Jensen

Voters turned out in force to narrowly defeat operating levies on the ballot for Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted and Buffalo-Hanover-Montrose school districts. See precinct breakdown

For HLWW, a question to renew the existing levy was defeated by 79 votes, as well as a second question asking to shore up a reserve fund recommended by the auditor, which failed by 197 votes.

The number of voters who turned out totaled 1,760, which is twice as many who turned out Nov. 8, 2005 for school board elections, with 862 casting votes at that time. The fall 2005 election is when Beth Horn, Tom Hammer, Jamie Wiech, and Al Doering were voted into office.

Previously, HLWW voters turned out for the referendum last year for the new high school, which attracted 2,978 voters, who cast ballots Feb. 21, 2006.

For Buffalo, voters also turned out in force. “The voter turnout was the highest ever in an odd-year school election,” noted BHM Supt. Jim Bauck.

Some observers noted that property owners in the HLWW district had only just received their proposed taxes in the mail a month ago, and that this perhaps provided sticker shock from the new high school being built midway between Howard Lake and Winsted.

Supt. George Ladd expressed disappointment, noting that the levy amount requested was fairly small.

“No matter what happens, we’ll lose that money,” he added, saying that even if voters had a change of heart in the spring for a mail-in vote, or in the fall for a walk-in vote, the school district can’t certify taxes for another year.

If the levy passed, it would have been certified for 2008 taxes payable. Now, it won’t be certify, if passed either spring or fall, until 2009.

In Buffalo-Hanover-Montrose, voters shot down three questions, with the first asking about a general operating levy, which lost by 139 votes, a second question asking to upgrade technology, which lost by 799 votes, and a third question about reducing class sizes and adding programs for k-8, which lost by 972 votes.

For the main levy question (question one), residents who cast ballots in Montrose and Hanover voted down this question by nearly a 2:1 margin.

Four board members were also elected in Buffalo, Melissa Brings, Dean Brown, Patti Pokorney, and Rolf Mohwinkel.

A fifth candidate who filed, Beth Han, was not elected. All the candidates are from Buffalo.

The soonest that the school districts can pursue another levy attempt would be fall of 2008.

Both school districts noted that the need for the operating money doesn’t disappear after the election.

“The need for this funding will not go away,” Bauck said. “The result of the vote was disappointing because there will be a negative impact on our schools. However, we provided two budget plans and the community felt, at this time, it could not afford a tax increase,” he said.

The soonest that either district could pursue another levy attempt would be in the fall of 2008.

Other election results

Schools in the area had a mix of results.

Levy requests by Glencoe-Silver Lake, Delano, and Waconia were approved.

District levy attempts that failed include McLeod-West, and Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City.

Kimball elected the following three board members: Robin Dockery, Kurt Helgeson, and Tim Zipoy.

Three spots were filled in Eden Valley-Watkins by Shelly Kern, Robert Stenger, Kristie Ann Tschumperlin, and Dave Ruhland (Julie Meyer received 197 votes to Ruhland’s 198, which may prompt a recount).