Levy Part 3: What the levy ballot will look like and what it will mean?
Previous Morris Area School District operating levy articles included information about why the levy is necessary, what the tax impact of the levy would be, and how Morris compares to neighboring districts' operating levy amounts per pupil.
This week, the focus will be on the ballot question itself, the levy and aid portions of the requested revenue, and a reminder the dollars will be used for general fund expenses.
The ballot question essentially contains several pieces of information that might be better understood by explaining them individually.
The word replace does mean the district is asking to replace the current referendum authorization. However, the word renew could be used instead of replace, as the ballot question is essentially asking to renew a levy that was approved in 2000 (for 10 years) and is expiring this year.
The $301.82 is the amount of a current operating levy that is expiring this year. This levy generates approximately $288,000 each year for the district to use for general expenses. If the operating levy does not pass, the district would not receive these funds beginning next year, with the 2011-2012 school year.
The $500 amount is the amount of the new operating levy request. It is made up of asking to "renew" the current $301.82 and asking to increase the amount by $198.18. If approved, the "new" authorization of $198.18 would generate approximately $174,000 for general expenses starting next year.
The annual increase at the rate of inflation is a part of the levy question asking to allow the district to increase the $500 amount annually by an inflationary factored that is determined by the Minnesota Department of Education. It is estimated the rate of inflation will be between 1 percent and 1.5 percent each year.
The operating levy request is for 10 years, which is the same as all of the previous operating levy requests in the Morris Area district.
The statement is required by state law - the tax impact chart in the required mailing being sent out shows the actual impact on taxes.
Failure of the operating levy would mean that nearly $100,000 in aid from the State of Minnesota would not be available for the Morris District. Failure of the operating levy would also mean the district would have $288,000 less in revenue next year than this year, which is especially concerning given the uncertainty of education funding from the Legislature as they try to balance a $5.8 billion budget deficit for the State.
Here's the actual ballot question:
SCHOOL DISTRICT BALLOT QUESTION
REPLACING EXPIRING REFERENDUM AUTHORIZATION; APPROVING NEW AUTHORIZATION
The Board of Independent School District No. 769 (Morris), Minnesota has proposed to replace the School District's expiring referendum revenue authorization of $301.82 per pupil with a new authorization of $500 per pupil, subject to an annual increase at the rate of inflation. The proposed referendum revenue authorization would be applicable for ten (10) years unless otherwise revoked or reduced as provided by law. Shall the increase in the revenue proposed by the Board of Independent School District No. 769 (Morris) be approved?
BY VOTING "YES" ON THIS BALLOT QUESTION, YOU ARE VOTING FOR A PROPERTY TAX INCREASE.