On Nov. 5, Kenyon-Wanamingo and Zumbrota-Mazeppa will ask their respective communities to support a referendum.
K-W is hoping to bring additional funding for its operating levy, while Zumbrota-Mazeppa is trying a second time this year to renovate and add onto its existing buildings.
So what do you need to know before heading to the polls? Here are just a few things to know about the referendums.
K-W: The common sense plan
The district is asking two questions:
Revoke and replace the current levy with a $460 per pupil amount.
Consider an additional $300 per pupil funding.
The last operating levy was passed in 2013 for $682.58 per pupil. After passing the referendum, the state gave school boards an option of adding $300 per pupil without needing to ask voters the following year.
Superintendent Jeff Pesta said in an August interview that the K-W district was in a difficult position because it couldn’t access those funds. By revoking and replacing the current levy, it will have access to that money if the second question were to pass.
In the same late August story, Pesta called it “a basic common sense kind of move” for the district to take advantage of.
How does K-W’s operating levy compare to other schools?
If the district were to pass both questions, it still has one of the smallest operating levies around the area.
The district shared in an informational pamphlet on its website how it would compare to area school districts:
Goodhue: $300 per pupil
Pine Island: $300 per pupil
Triton: $300 per pupil
Owatonna: $764 per pupil
Cannon Falls: $800 per pupil
Faribault: $827 per pupil
Zumbrota-Mazeppa: $1,278 per pupil
Northfield: $2,011 per pupil
How will this affect your taxes?
On an average home ($150,000), the district estimates an increase of $46 per year if the first question passes. If the second question were to pass as well, on an average home, taxes per year would increase to $85.
Sticking out the current levy will keep the district losing money. The difference in funding between the current levy and the first question is estimated at $133,789.
If it doesn’t pass, what then?
The only item on the ballot for K-W voters will be the operating levy. Pesta hopes that will work in their favor Nov. 5.
If the district doesn’t pass the referendum, they’ll likely see their current levy through its end next year. They’ll need to go back to the voters to replace that operating levy at some point though, to ensure funding is maintained.
More information: Referendum PowerPoint
Z-M: Round two
This will be Zumbrota-Mazeppa’s second attempt at passing a building bond referendum this year.
In May, the community voted against a $49.95 million referendum that would renovate and expand its current buildings.
Now the community will consider three questions Nov. 5:
Question 1: $38.585 million
Question 2: $3.35 million
Question 3: $4.945 million
What will the money go towards?
In Zumbrota and Mazeppa, the schools need additions, renovations and remodeling.
The second and third questions, which are contingent on each question in front of them passing, will bring new gyms in Mazeppa and Zumbrota, as well as some updates to the athletic fields, parking and accessibility.
The district needs to update security in each site, while helping cultivate better learning environments.
What about one site?
Over the year-long discussion, a small group of residents have been pushing a one school site narrative.
From July survey results, the district found there isn’t enough community-wide support to pursue that plan. Replacing all schools with a new consolidated campus would be costly as well, being upwards of $97 million.
Many residents who filled out the survey said overwhelming that they felt the first plan was too expensive and they couldn’t support it. The district also found a large amount of support for keeping two school sites based on survey information.
What will this cost voters?
Unlike an operating levy, land owners are taxed on every acre of their property. For years districts that are made up mostly of agricultural land struggled to get referendums passed.
Thanks to the Ag2School Tax Credit, the state of Minnesota helps those agricultural land owners get some relief.
The Ag2School Tax Credit will be the following over the next few years:
The tax credit will pay for 22% of the total project, according to Superintendent Michael Harvey.
On an average home in the district ($190,000), taxes will pay $24.58 per month. If the second question passes, add $2.83 per month. If the third question passes, add $4.17 per month.
For more information: Z-M Vote Website