Lyle board to re-vote on levy after pre-hearing approval

Published 10:13 am Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Even the Lyle Public School Truth in Taxation meetings are an event.

Lyle’s school board ran into a procedural speed bump Monday night when board members passed the district’s payable 2012 levy at the maximum amount, roughly $800,000. Problem is, the board passed the levy about an hour before holding a Truth in Taxation meeting.

The board’s actions aren’t a violation of Truth in Taxation laws, according to the Minnesota School Board Association and Mower County Auditor/Treasurer Doug Groh.

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“It’s just a courtesy to let people know what (the levy’s) going to be,” said Greg Abbott, communications director of the MSBA.

The board will recertify the 2012 levy at the special board meeting on Dec. 27, where they will also interview and choose a new school board member to replace Scott Nelson, who resigned in November.

Board candidate Wayne Frank questioned the board on levy-related information Monday night and asked about whether the board could certify the levy before the Truth in Taxation meeting.

“I put my name in as a school board member and I was just trying to get up to speed,” Frank said. “I’m educating myself to be a good board member, if I happen to be selected.”

Truth in Taxation meetings are required for cities with more than 500 residents as well as counties. School boards are required to have public comment during them, but don’t necessarily have to have them.

Schools are unique when it comes to levies, as the Minnesota Department of Education sets limits on how much districts can levy. In addition, school levies are for the most part determined by city and county levies, unless voters approve a levy. That means school boards don’t have complete control over their unapproved levies, though boards can decide to accept less money than the maximum levy amount, which will vary from district to district depending on an area’s economy.

Still, Truth in Taxation meetings are done so the public can ask questions about levy information and make suggestions to a board.

“We put the cart before the horse,” said Lyle Superintendent Jim Dusso.

Dusso said the board agreed to have its vote on the levy approval stricken from the meeting minutes.

District officials have put instructions on how to access the Truth in Taxation information on the district’s website.