by Jennie Zeitler, Staff Writer
During the most recent legislative session, the state of Minnesota gave local school boards the authority to convert up to $300 per adjusted pupil unit from a voter-approved referendum authority to a Board-approved referendum authority. The tax increase could potentially cover five years.
The Royalton School District, which does not have a current operating levy, voted to approve a resolution for such a tax increase, beginning with taxes payable in 2014.
The approval would mean an increase of approximately $40 per $100,000 of home value per year, said Supt. Jon Ellerbusch.
“I can’t support a resolution that takes away the voter’s right to vote,” said Board Member Tom Justin.
“I struggle with the same thing,” said Board Member Jim Block. “But my solution was, I’m an elected official giving voice to the public. If they don’t like this, they can vote me off.”
“The state should have just taken care of the $300, but instead they shifted it onto local school boards,” said Ellerbusch.
“It’s tax money that was going somewhere else,” said Board Member Jeff Swenson. “Let’s capture it and keep it in the Royalton School District.”
Block proposed that the Board approve the tax increase for two years instead of the full five years that was possible.
“I don’t want to see us lose the opportunity we have to hold everyone accountable to spend the money wisely,” he said.
The referendum authority resolution was approved by a 4-1 vote, with Justin voting no, and Board Member Liz Verley being absent.