More than half of the voters in the Brainerd School District checked yes on their ballots and supported the $1.5 million operating levy Tuesday.
The levy passed with 55.27 percent of the votes or 3,859. There were 3,123 no votes or 44.73 percent. There were 6,982 people who voted or a 33 percent voter turnout. There are 21,370 registered voters in the Brainerd School District area. This number does not include new registered voters during the election.
The levy will increase the district's general education revenue to $195 per pupil unit to bring in an estimated $1.5 million a year for 10 years. The state will match $1 for each local fund raised.
With the approval of the levy, the school district will be able to maintain class sizes and continue its programs and services.
Superintendent Jerry Walseth was thrilled with the high voter turnout and said that the community's support is greatly appreciated.
"It's all about education," he said.
"The most gratifying thing about the election was the referendum," said Brainerd School Board Chair Lew Hudson. "This was phase one and it will assure us that we have operating funds for the plans for the buildings."
Gary Phillips, assistant superintendent, was excited when the final results came in around 11:45 p.m. He said the levy will help the district, especially since the state's funding for education is unstable.
"This will set us up to weather the storm," he said.
Property owners in the district will still see a decrease in their property taxes for 2002 because of legislative changes, regardless of the levy.
A residential or commercial property owner with a $100,000 market value home/structure paid $271 this year in property taxes for education. With the levy passing, the property tax for this person would be $127.
But the district plans to only levy $146 of the $195 per pupil unit at this time. The full levy will be used only if a future building bond is approved by voters. This is part of the long range comprehensive plan.
Business Manager Steve Dickinson said not levying the full amount at this time is better news for taxpayers. The person with a $100,000 market value home will pay $111 instead of the full $127 for taxes next year.
Walseth said the district hopes to have a long range plan in place by spring of 2002.
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