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Red Wing School District operating levy vote is Tuesday

When polls close at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 7, Red Wing voters will have decided one of three outcomes: yes/yes, yes/no or no/no.

The Red Wing School District is asking residents to support the schools by replacing the current operating levy of $811.64 per student with a levy of $1,235.64 per student. A second question on the ballot seeking an additional $500 per student would help stabilize the district's budget in the midst of years of declining enrollment.

As enrollment dips so does state education funding.

"The district is asking the community to consider providing a source of funding that will enhance the quality education our students receive," Superintendent Karsten Anderson said.

Most of Minnesota's 553 school districts rely on voter-approved operating levy funding to operate their schools. According to data from schoolfinances.com, 338 schools in the state operate 10-year operating levies.

Levy set to expire

The current operating levy of $811.64 expires in 2019.

If neither question passes this year, Anderson said he will recommend another election in 2018.

"We have to pass something before the current levy expires, or we will have significant issues with our budget," he said.

The operating levy referendum differs from the 2016 building referendum approved by voters, which provided funding for maintenance and safety/security projects.

The operating levy provides funds to the district's general fund on a per-pupil basis, which has been impacted by declining enrollment. In addition, legislative funding increases have not kept up with the rate of inflation. The district made budget reductions exceeding $2.4 million during the three-year period leading up to operating levy discussions.

Voter approval of the first question would revoke the district's current operating levy of $811.64, and replace it with a new levy of $1,235.64 per student. If approved, the levy would increase by the rate of inflation and be applicable for 10 years.

The second question is seeking an additional $500 per student to increase the district's general education revenue, and would also increase by the rate of inflation and be applicable for 10 years. Question 1 must pass for Question 2 to pass.

First-year impact, future inflation

The monthly tax impacts on residential homestead, apartments and commercial-industrial properties are in the Taxable Market Value table.

 

 If the operating levy passes, the 10-year life of the levy would be impacted by the inflationary factor.

"We estimate the inflation factor would increase taxes on a $150,000 home by about 30-50 cents per month each year if both questions pass, inflation is 2 percent per year and all other factors remain the same. This increase, though, would be partially negated if enrollment declines as we expect," Anderson said.

The inflation would be calculated on the per-student levies of $1,235.64 and $500 and not home values. If both passed and both went up 2 percent in 2019, the district would receive approximately an additional $29.80 per student and while the owner of a $150,000 home would pay an additional $3.60 to $6 that year.

Voting details

Absentee voting will be available Monday at the district office, which is located inside door 36 of Red Wing High School. Election Day voting will occur from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at three polling locations; Burnside Elementary School, Red Wing Public Library and Red Wing High School.

Precincts reporting to Burnside are Featherstone Township and Red Wing Ward 1 Precincts 1 and 2. The library will host Red Wing Ward 2 Precincts 1 and 2, Ward 3 Precinct 1 and Ward 4 Precinct 1.

Red Wing High School will welcome Belvidere Township, Florence Township, Hay Creek Township, Wacouta Township and Red Wing Ward 3 Precinct 2 and Ward 4 Precinct 2. For information about your assigned polling location, please visit pollfinder.sos.state.mn.us/

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