by Jim Boyle
In an effort to prevent school districts from siphoning off property tax relief, the Minnesota Legislature considered a bill to prevent operational levies.
It passed with an apparent last minute revision that left Elk River Area School District officials feeling too confined. They took the advice of the Minnesota School Board’s Association and passed a resolution calling for a levy in 2013 to keep the option open.
“Right now, it is not our intent, but we don’t want to shut the door on this,” Superintendent Mark Bezek told members of the Elk River Area School Board.
The legislature put a freeze on 2013 operating levy referendums (in other words those levied in 2014 and revenue generating by 2015) but not bond referendums for constructing new buildings. The legislation that passed included a provision, Bezek said, that if districts have a resolution for a levy in place by June 30, the freeze does not affect those districts.
The district will have to make a final declaration in August.
School officials said they speculate the legislation was an attempt to negate the effect of property tax reforms, but they were not sure.
Initially, the legislation proposed that districts like Elk River that failed an operating levy the prior year would have been exempt.
“In the final legislation, that language was taken out,” Bezek said.