Look in the mailbox for levy language

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 22, 2006

Bill Leland, Guest Columnist

A revenue inflation clause is included in the ballot language for the Nov. 7 operating levy referendum proposed by the Albert Lea Area Schools. This is a new feature that was recently approved by the state Legislature, that can now be included in the levy referendum ballot language. The inflationary language was included when the board asked that our referendum question concept be developed into a ballot question by legal experts in St. Paul. Soon you will be receiving (or may have already received) a mailing that will include the referendum language that was developed following the new state law. This sample ballot will include the inflation language for your review. The inflation rate will be determined by the consumer price index, which is currently at 1.8 percent.

What most folks will want to know is how the inflation clause in the ballot language will impact the estimated tax rate for a home if this referendum is approved? It is anticipated that the revenue inflation language is not likely to impact your property tax rate. There are many factors that affect the estimated taxes of property owners. The 2002 referendum was approved at $498 per student, which provided the school district approximately $2.25 million during the first year, but that amount was reduced to approximately $2 million four years later because of declining student enrollment. As a result, the section of your school property tax rate that relates to the operating levy actually decreased by a small amount over the past four years. Since our projections continue to show a slight decrease in student enrollment, it is expected that if the new referendum is approved the revenue it generates will also decrease over time and so will your tax rate.

Another reason that this inflationary factor will have little impact on your taxes is because new homes, business expansions and business growth add to our total tax base. When our tax base expands, individual property owners will actually see a small decrease in their property tax rate. It is anticipated that with declining enrollment and the growth in homes and businesses, that the estimated property tax rates will not increase with the inflation clause even though the revenue received from this referendum will increase by about $70,000 per year.

If, by chance, there were no increase to the tax base in our community, the increase to a taxpayer in an average home valued at $100,000 would be about $2.58 per year or about 22 cents per month. This assumes an inflationary factor of 2 percent. That would be the case if no homes were built, no business were built and no rental expansions occurred in the future years of the life of the referendum.

Please feel free to call any of the school board members or the district office at 379-4802 with your questions. All of your school board members are trying to be as complete and as open as possible in explaining this levy referendum. We need all voters in District 241 to understand the importance of this referendum to our community’s children and our school community as a whole. We welcome the opportunity to speak with individuals or groups about any aspect of the district or the referendum.

To receive additional information about the operating levy referendum

please go to our district website at albertlea.k12.mn.us and click on the Referendum 2006 tab located in the upper left-hand corner of the screen.

We thank the community for your continued support.

Bill Leland is the District 241 Board of Education vice-chairman.