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Herald Journal | DC Enterprise-Dispatch | Delano Herald Journal
Several local school districts ask voters for funding
OCT. 31, 2011
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By Ivan Raconteur
Editor

HOWARD LAKE, WAVERLY, WINSTED, LETER PRAIRIE, WATERTOWN, MAYER, WACONIA, MN

Several local school districts are among the 40 percent of districts statewide that are conducting referendums Tuesday, Nov. 8.

Proposed improvements range from building improvements in Lester Prairie, to operating levies for Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted and Watertown-Mayer, to acquisition and betterment of school sites and construction of a new elementary school in the Waconia School District.

What is the difference between a levy and a bond?

An operating levy referendum provides funds that are used for the general operations of the school district, including salaries, benefits, utilities, and classroom materials.

A bond referendum provides funds that can be used to repair or renovate existing facilities or purchase technology and other equipment. Bond referendum proceeds cannot be used for school district operations.

Whenever a school district needs either operating or building funds that go beyond the dollars provided by the state, it must ask voters to approve those funds through a vote (there are a few minor exceptions to this written into state statute).

LP School District

The Lester Prairie School District is proposing a bond referendum to fund building improvements totalling just under $5 million.

Improvements include replacing the school’s aging steam boiler with an efficient hot water heating system that will be less expensive to operate and will provide modern controls that will make the building more comfortable, improved ventilation, lighting, and electrical systems; upgrades to the science labs to make them curriculum-compliant, expanding the kitchen area, and adding a commons area that could be used for school and community events.

The proposed changes would also provide a more secure environment, according to the district.

Some of the savings from more efficient operation would help to pay for the improvements, according to information provided by the district.

Springsted Vice President Patricia Heminover, the district’s financial consultant, said the tax impact of the proposed improvements on a home with a market value of $75,000 would be about $102 annually ($8 per month). The impact on a home with a market value of $100,000 would be approximately $136 per year ($11 per month).

Sept. 21, the Minnesota Department of Education judged the proposed construction project to be “educationally and economically advisable,” according to the school board.

If the referendum is approved, detailed design work will begin this fall. Site work would begin in late spring or early summer 2012.

For more information about the Lester Prairie referendum, click the link on the Herald Journal website, www.herald-journal.com.

HLWW School District

In August, Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted School Board passed a resolution authorizing a levy election this fall.

The ballot question proposes renewal of a $50 per-pupil levy, which is scheduled to expire after taxes payable in 2012. If approved, the renewed levy would be applicable for 10 years, starting with taxes payable in 2013.

By asking for a renewal instead of an increase, property taxes for a $100,000 home will not show a net change.

“On most homes, it’s potentially a dollar or two dollars less that they’d owe,” Board Chair Dan Schaible said.

According to a tax analysis prepared by Ehlers, a financial advisory company, the net change in taxes for a $200,000 home is $1 less. For a $450,000 property, there is a $2 decrease.

For more information about the HLWW referendum, click the link on the Herald Journal website, www.herald-journal.com.

Watertown-Mayer School District

A referendum levy that voters approved in 2001 is set to expire at the end of 2011.

The Watertown-Mayer School Board is asking voters to approve a new replacement operational levy Nov. 8.

The current $242 per-pupil referendum levy provides approximately $850,000 in revenue each year. This revenue goes into the general fund to help pay for student learning, teachers, textbooks, transportation, and other expenses that go into educating more than 1,600 students in the Watertown-Mayer School District. The proposed $500 per-pupil referendum levy would provide approximately $1.3 million in revenue for the next 10 years, and includes an inflation factor.

According to levy information provided by the district, the annual tax impact on a residential property with a taxable market value of $100,000 is $51 under the current levy.

The proposed levy, if approved, would replace the current levy with an annual tax impact on a $100,000 home of $105, resulting in an annual net increase of $54 ($4.51 per month).

A referendum operating levy is an important part of the district’s general fund budget, especially now, when a huge state deficit has resulted in flat funding for the past four years. The cause and effect of a 40 percent state shift (borrowing of school dollars) resulted in a district loss of $4 million in funds, the drying-up of $750,000 in federal dollars over the past two years, and with the added cost of inflation, has resulted in budget deficits for the district, according to the district website.

In trying to overcome these revenue shortages, the district has cut more than $2.2 million in general fund expenditures. Staff salaries and benefits have been frozen, and basic functions of operation have had to be put on hold during the last three budget cycles.

According to information provided by the district, if the referendum fails, the school board will need to cut more than $850,000 from the budget, resulting in increased student/teacher ratios, reduced class offerings, bus services, and extracurricular offerings; and increased student fees.

For more information about the Watertown-Mayer referendum, click the link on the Herald Journal website, www.herald-journal.com.

Waconia School Dist.

Sept. 12, the board of education voted to place a referendum on the November ballot focussing on elementary school items.

The plan is to purchase land and build a new elementary school in St. Bonifacius/Minnetrista, and move the fifth grade from the middle school back to the elementary schools.

According to information from the district, if the referendum is approved, the district will buy land and build a new elementary school with tax-deferred funds. Payments would be deferred until 2014, at which time the school portion of property taxes could be held to the same level until the bonds are paid.

Two questions will be on the ballot for voters in the Waconia School District.

• Question 1: Shall the board of Independent School District No. 110, Waconia, be authorized to issue its general obligation school bonds in an amount not to exceed $3 million to provide funds for the acquisition and betterment of school sites and facilities, including the acquisition of land and construction of athletic fields?

• Question 2: Provided that ballot question No. 1 is approved, shall the school board of Independent School District No. 110, Waconia, be authorized to issue its general obligation school bonds in an amount not to exceed $15 million to provide funds for the acquisition and betterment of school sites and facilities, including the construction of a new elementary school, expansion of fiber optic lines, and upgrades to other school buildings?

For more information about the Waconia School District referendum, click the link on the Herald Journal website, www.herald-journal.com.

Voting information

To be eligible to vote, you must be 18 years of age or older on election day, be a US citizen, and have maintained residence in Minnesota for at least 20 days preceding the election. You must register to vote in the precinct in which you live. You may not vote if you have been convicted of a felony, or if you are under a court-ordered guardianship in which the court order revokes your right to vote.

If you are uncertain if you are registered, you can go online to the Secretary of State’s website at www.sos.state.mn.us and click on “Elections and Voting.” You may also call your county auditor’s office or taxpayer services office.

Pre-registration ended Oct. 18, but those who are not already registered may register at their polling place on Election Day.

To register at your polling place on Election Day, you must bring one of the following with your current name and address to verify your residence in the precinct:

• A valid Minnesota driver’s license, learner’s permit, Minnesota ID card, or receipt for any of these.

• A valid student ID card including your photo, if your college has provided a student housing list to election officials.

• A tribal ID card that contains your picture and signature

• A valid registration in the same precinct under a different name or address.

• A notice of late registration sent to you by your county auditor or city clerk.

• A voter registered in the same precinct as you who can confirm (vouch) your address with a signed oath.

• An employee of the residential facility where you live who can confirm your address with a signed oath.

• Or Both 1) A photo ID from the list below, and 2) A current bill from the list below with your current name and address in the precinct.

Photo IDs (may be expired): Minnesota driver’s license, Minnesota ID card, US Passport, US Military ID, tribal ID card, Minnesota university, college, or technical college ID card.

Bills (delivered electronically or by mail): utility bill due within 30 days of election day, telephone, TV, Internet services, electric, gas, solid waste, sewer services, water, rent statement within 30 days of election day that itemizes utilities, Current student fee statement.

Absentee ballots

Voters who will not be able to vote in person on election day and want information about absentee voting may contact their local school district, or click on the link for their district on the Herald Journal website, www.herald-journal.com.

Where to vote:

Polls will be open Tuesday, Nov. 8 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Following are the voting locations for local school referendums:

Lester Prairie School District:

• Lester Prairie School gymnasium, 131 Hickory Street North.

Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted School District:

• HLWW High School, 8700 County Road 6 SW, Howard Lake.

Watertown-Mayer School District:

• Watertown Community Center (in city hall), 309 Lewis Ave. S., Watertown.

• Mayer Community Center, 413 Bluejay Avenue, Mayer.

Waconia School District:

The combined polling places for this election and the precincts served by those polling places will be as follows:

• New Germany City Hall, 300 Broadway St. E., New Germany.

This combined polling place serves all territory in Independent School District No. 110 located in the city of New Germany; Hollywood and Camden townships.

• Bayview Elementary School, 24 So. Walnut Street, Waconia.

This combined polling place serves all territory in Independent School District No. 110 located in the city of Victoria; the city of Waconia; and Hancock, Benton, Dahlgren, Waconia, Laketown, Watertown and San Francisco townships; Carver County, Minnesota.

• St. Bonifacius City Hall, 8535 Kennedy Memorial Dr., St. Bonifacius.

This combined polling place serves all territory in Independent School District No. 110 located in the city of St. Bonifacius and the city of Minnetrista.

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