South metro districts seek 'yes' on tax levies

  • Article by: SARAH LEMAGIE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 30, 2011 - 5:59 PM

Seven school districts are among well over 100 statewide that will ask voters for more taxing authority on Nov. 8.

Seven south-metro school districts are among an unusually large number statewide that will ask voters to consider renewing or increasing local taxes for education this fall.

Many Minnesota districts seeking taxing authority at the Nov. 8 election had until Friday to notify county authorities. As of last week, the Minnesota School Boards Association (MSBA) counted 133 districts that are either planning or considering a referendum this fall. That's the most since 2001, according to MSBA.

Statewide, school leaders are trying to make ends meet despite years of stagnant state funding and delayed state aid payments.

"There's just the need for more money, in a lot of cases, just to maintain the programs that they have," said Mike Torkelson, an election specialist for MSBA.

The vast majority of districts with questions on the ballot are seeking operating funds rather than bonding authority for construction projects.

Here's what voters will see on metro-area ballots south of the Minnesota River:

BURNSVILLE-EAGAN-SAVAGE

The district seeks to renew an existing levy of $846 per pupil for 10 years. The levy, which expires in 2013, generates operating funds of about $10 million a year for local schools.

CANNON FALLS

The school board has proposed to revoke a levy of $500 per pupil and replace it with taxing authority of $950 per pupil. With the increase, the new three-year levy would generate just over $1.3 million in annual operating funds. Homeowners would see a tax increase of about $88 per $100,000 of home value. The current levy is set to expire in 2013.

HASTINGS

The district seeks to renew for eight years an operating levy of $690 per pupil. The levy, which expires after the upcoming school year, raises about $3.8 million a year for the district.

INVER GROVE HEIGHTS

The district has put three questions on the ballot:

• The first question asks voters to renew for 10 years an existing levy of $480 per pupil that expires in 2013. The levy brings in a little over $2 million a year in operating funds for the district.

• The second question proposes a 10-year capital projects levy that would raise about $700,000 a year for technology. Property taxes on a home valued at $200,000, which is average in the district, would go up by about $55 a year.

• Approval of the third question would increase the district's levy authority by $372 per pupil for 10 years, raising another $1.6 million a year in operating funds. Annual taxes on a $200,000 home would increase by $135.

NEW PRAGUE

The district has proposed to renew existing levy authority of $757 per pupil and raise it by $100 per pupil. The current levy, which is set to expire in 2013, raises about $3.1 million a year in operating funds for local schools; the increase would bring in an additional $400,000 a year. The new levy would run for five years, starting in 2013. Annual property taxes would increase by about $24 per $100,000 of home value.

NORTHFIELD

Northfield voters will consider two school tax requests:

• The first question proposes to increase the district's operating levy authority to the maximum allowed under state law. It would revoke an existing levy of $1,270 per pupil two years before it's due to expire. In its place, the district would levy $1,604 per pupil for 10 years, with levy authority rising each year by the rate of inflation. The increase of $334 per pupil would raise an additional $1.2 million a year for the district. If approved, it would raise local property taxes by about $73 a year per $100,000 of home value.

• The second question proposes to renew a capital projects levy of $750,000 a year when it expires in 2014. The money, which would be levied for an additional 10 years, would be used to replace technology and textbooks and maintain buildings and grounds.

WEST ST. PAUL-MENDOTA HEIGHTS-EAGAN

The district is seeking to increase its operating levy authority to the maximum allowed under state law.

A question on Nov. 8 ballots will ask voters to consider renewing a levy of $363 per pupil that expires in 2012 and increasing taxing authority by another $376 per pupil. The new 10-year levy, which would increase annually by the rate of inflation, would raise about $3.5 million a year in operating funds.

Combined with other existing local taxes, approval would give the district the go-ahead to levy a total of $1,597 per pupil in operating funds.

Homeowners would see an annual tax increase of about $35 per $100,000 of home value.

Sarah Lemagie • 952-882-9016

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