Cannon Falls asks for higher operating levyCannon Falls School District is asking taxpayers to revoke the existing $500 per pupil operating levy and replace it with one nearly twice as much.
By: Sarah Gorvin, The Republican Eagle
Editor’s note: Three Goodhue County school districts will hold levy referendums this fall.
Oct. 15: Goodhue
Today: Cannon Falls and Kenyon-Wanamingo
Cannon Falls School District is asking taxpayers to revoke the existing $500 per pupil operating levy and replace it with one nearly twice as much.
Supt. Beth Giese said the request comes as a result of the state delaying funding. The district, like all other Minnesota school districts, will receive 60 percent of its state money right away, with the last 40 percent coming at some later date.
This year’s split means school districts will receive less up front than last year, when the state imposed a 70-30 split. With the funding delay, Giese said the district “will barely be hanging on.”
To bridge that gap, the district is asking for a $950 per pupil operating levy.
An ad hoc finance committee that included former Cannon Falls Supt. Dick McGuire and former School Board member Dick Peterson reached that figure after meeting throughout the summer. The School Board approved the $950 per pupil recommendation Aug. 22.
“If we raise the levy, we won’t have to borrow the money,” Geise said.
She added that the state’s increase of about $30 per pupil was “nice,” but was “not going to pay the interest … on the money we’ll need to borrow to stay afloat.”
The new levy would run for three years. The current levy is a 10-year levy and would expire in 2013. At a public forum held this summer, Giese said community members pushed for a short time period.
“The community response was loud and clear. Go shorter,” she said.
For taxpayers, the higher levy would mean that for a property valued at $100,000, they would need to pay an additional $88 a year or about $7 a month.
If the levy does not pass, Giese said that cuts would unavoidable. “We are looking at cutting a lot of things,” she said.
Those would come on top of $1.2 million in cuts that have been made since the current levy took effect in 2003.
Geise said she, McGuire and Peterson have been presenting the levy information to various community groups, including the Cannon Falls Rotary and the Cannon Falls Lions Club. They’ve also had one public meeting.
“We’ve had a really good, positive response,” Giese said.
Taxpayers will vote on the proposed levy Tuesday Nov. 8 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the Cannon Community Center, 120 W State St.