By Starrla Cray
HOWARD LAKE, WAVERLY, WINSTED, MN In about a month, voters in the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted School District will be staring at a three-question ballot sheet, and their answers of “yes” or “no” will impact the district’s future financial situation, as well as property taxes.
The school district is hoping to pass an $880,000 operating levy to avoid cutting programs, teachers, and classes.
The first question on the ballot proposes to extend the district’s current $500-per-pupil levy for 10 years. This is an existing levy that the district is asking to renew, and it doesn’t result in an increase in taxes.
If this question passes, annual taxes for a $100,000 home would decrease by $2, because the district’s tax base is spread over more people than in previous years.
“People are sometimes confused, and think that the $500 per pupil means $500 per household, and it doesn’t,” HLWW Superintendent Brad Sellner said.
The second question proposes adding an inflationary rate to question one, and can only pass if the first question passes.
Voting “yes” to question two means that the amount of money per pupil would increase at an adjusted inflationary rate, lower than the consumer price index rate. For the past five years, that rate has averaged 1.095 percent.
Adding the inflationary rate would result in about a $2 increase in taxes for a $100,000 house.
The third question proposes taking away the existing $50-per-student levy and replacing it with a $150-per-student levy. The existing levy expires in 2013. If the new $150 levy passes, it would have a five-year term.
For taxpayers, this would mean a $20 tax increase for a house worth $100,000.
Impact of a failed levy
If the levy doesn’t pass, cuts to the HLWW School District could include increased class sizes, increased activity fees, elimination of certain athletic and fine arts activities, additional staff cuts, eliminating elective classes, and more.
If the levy fails this year, there will be another election in 2010. If it fails again, more cuts would need to be made. These could include the closing of the Humphrey Elementary and Winsted Elementary school buildings, as well as other reductions.
The Tuesday, Nov. 3 levy election will have three polling places, open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., for voters who are part of Independent School District No. 2687.
Residents of Waverly, as well as Marysville and Woodland townships, will vote at Humphrey Elementary School in Waverly.
People who live in Howard Lake, as well as Middleville, Victor, Albion, and Stockholm townships, will vote at the Howard Lake Middle School in Howard Lake.
The polling place for Winsted residents, as well as voters in Winsted Township and Hollywood Township, will be the Winsted Elementary School in Winsted.
Before the election, voting members will receive a brochure in the mail from the HLWW School District explaining the impact the passage or failure of the levy will have on both the school and taxpayers.
Questions regarding the levy should be directed to a HLWW school board member, including Al Doering, Michelle Heuer, Dan Schaible, Jesse Tintes, Charles Weber, Paul Weibel, and Jamie Wiech.
Contact information is listed on the HLWW school web site, www.hlww.k12.mn.us. Click on the “operating levy 2009” tab, and go to “school board member contact info.”