What do school levy questions 1, 2 and 3 mean to Duluth taxpayers?The ballot questions for the upcoming Duluth school district operating levy referendum have caused some confusion.
By: Jana Hollingsworth, Duluth News Tribune
The ballot questions for the upcoming Duluth school district operating levy referendum have caused some confusion.
Here’s an explainer:
Property taxpayers in the Duluth district, which includes the city of Duluth and five townships, can choose to increase their annual payments to the school district from among three amounts. Or they can turn down all three.
Property taxpayers already pay a $366-per-pupil levy, which they approved in 2008, and a $39 levy that is set to expire at the end of the year. Voting yes on Question No. 1 will replace the $366-per-pupil levy with a $650-per-pupil levy.
Voting yes on Questions No. 1 and 2 will mean a $773-per-pupil levy.
Some people have wondered whether voting yes on all three questions means the amounts are added together. In a word: No. There is no levy amount greater than $871 per pupil.
The district has projected a $4 million to $5 million deficit for the 2013 fiscal year. District officials say the additional money from the levies would help address that deficit.
Priorities for the money would be lowering class sizes, improving science and math education, and buying new textbooks. The extent of those improvements depends on which levels, if any, are approved.
What does a new operating levy mean for taxpayers?
According to the Duluth City Assessor’s Office, the average value of a homesteaded property for 2011 in Duluth is about $158,000. So, we’ll round down to make it easier.
The average levy among all state school districts this year is $864 per pupil, according to the Minnesota Department of Education.
The new operating levy would last for five years, and would begin in January.
This levy is separate from the 2012 property tax levy the district will set in December. Last month it set that preliminary amount at $25.8 million, a 4.9 percent increase from $24.6 million raised in 2011.