Minn. tax levy referendums are down this year

Published 11:39 am Monday, August 27, 2012

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Fewer Minnesota school districts will ask local voters for more money this year than asked last year.

The Minnesota School Boards Association said about 30 districts indicated to them through a survey they would hold tax levy referendums, although those figures aren’t final. That’s far fewer than the 133 who held referendums last year.

“Given that there was such a high number last year, it’s logical we would see a significant decrease this year,” said Gary Amoroso, executive director of the Minnesota Association of School Administrators. “I think you’re mostly seeing schools that weren’t successful in meeting their needs last year come out again.”

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Association spokesman Greg Abbott said the group hadn’t received survey responses yet from 60 to 70 districts. The deadline for districts to notify the state if they planned to hold referendums was Friday, and Abbott said he expects the state to have the exact number later this week.

Many district officials said they didn’t want to risk losing voters to the noise coming from the president campaigns, and that they’ll wait until next year, the Star Tribune reported.

Others are waiting for a clearer picture from the state on the future of education funding.

Delano has an operating levy that provides about $1.1 million annually, or almost 7 percent of the district’s budget. It is set to expire next year.

If the levy isn’t renewed, district officials project they will have to cut about $700,000 from their budget, which translates into about 18 lost jobs, bigger class sizes and a reduction in services. Last year, Delano voters rejected a levy renewal, leading to staffing cuts and higher fees.

“It will cripple us,” said Superintendent Matt Schoen of the possibility of another rejection by voters. “We’re at a critical financial crossroads.”