By Ivan Raconteur
LESTER PRAIRIE, MN Preparations are underway for Lester Prairie School District’s special election in January, according to Superintendent Mike McNulty.
Notices of the special election have been sent to the county auditor and the state, McNulty said.
The election will take place Wednesday, Jan. 16 from noon to 8 p.m. in the Lester Prairie School gymnasium.
McNulty said official notices regarding absentee ballots will be published Monday, Dec. 10, and voters will be able to pick up absentee ballots beginning Monday, Dec. 17.
The special election involves asking voters to approve transfer of $755,446 in excess funds from the heating and ventilation project to the capital fund.
McNulty explained that the difference between this final amount and the $600,000 estimate for transfer that he included in a letter to the editor published in the Nov. 12 issue of Herald Journal was the result of two things.
First, the transfer estimate from ESG (the district’s contractor for the project) was low, in case there were any change orders that had not yet been processed. Second, all of the cost for asbestos removal had been deleted from the earlier estimate. but this was found to be incorrect, according to McNulty. Some of the asbestos removal did qualify for the project, and must be levied separately.
McNulty said he will submit a statement explaining the financial impact of the request to be published in a future issue of Herald Journal.
McNulty has scheduled public informational meetings to explain the purpose and impact of the special election prior to the December and January school board meetings.
The informational meetings will take place Monday, Dec. 17 and Monday, Jan. 9. Both meetings are scheduled 5:30 to 6:15 p.m.
McNulty said he has met, and will continue to meet with business owners to explain the special election.
At the district’s 6:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 17 Truth in Taxation hearing, McNulty said the board could ask for $71,275 less than the maximum levy amount. This represents two parts of the health and safety levy part of the asbestos removal and removal of a tank.
If the voters approve the transfer in January, the district could pay off the amount. If not, the levy could continue.
If the transfer is not approved, the $71,275 would continue the following year, along with additional levy amounts for asbestos removal and installation of a sprinkler system. This could be an estimated total of $300,000, McNulty said.
McNulty provided a document showing the estimated tax impact of the district’s sale of alternative facilities bonds for the building improvement project. The actual amount was very close to the preliminary estimate.
For a residential property with an estimated market value of $150,000, and a net tax capacity (residential homestead) of $1,263, the preliminary estimated annual tax impact was $122, and the actual estimated tax impact is $123.
The first-year levy increased from $232,572 to $224,333, and the tax rate increase changed from 9.657 percent to 9.770 percent.
For a commercial property with an estimated market value of $500,000, and a net tax capacity (residential homestead) of $9,250, the preliminary estimated annual tax impact was $893, and the actual estimated tax impact is $904.
McNulty said the 20-year debt levy for the health and safety bond issue is reflected on tax statements for taxes payable in 2013. He noted this is six months earlier than the board originally expected.