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Letter: Actual tax impact requires more math

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I believe that a misleading statement was made in a recent letter in the newspaper concerning the upcoming school referendum in Menahga. It was stated that the property tax impact per taxpayer will be a 56 percent increase if the referendum passes.

The actual average cost per taxpayer requires more math.

Question one on the ballot calls for bonds in an amount not to exceed $4,950,000. The interest on this amount for the 15 year payback is $759,300 for a total cost of $5,942,790. When this cost is divided by those 15 years, the average yearly cost to district taxpayers per year is $396,186. If this total is divided by the 3,214 district taxpayers the average increase amounts to $123.26 per year or 34 cents per day for each taxpayer. Question two on the ballot calls for an additional $560,000. If both questions on the bond issue pass the average cost per taxpayer is $136.88 per year or 38 cents per day for each taxpayer.

When discussing our school district tax, please keep in mind that Menahga is among the 10 percent of Minnesota School Districts that does not have an excess levy referendum. If we had an average levy this would be an approximate increase of $765,000 of additional taxes each year. Our district has been fiscally conservative.

Historically, the state of Minnesota has helped districts like ours. In the 1990s, the state helped by paying 60-some percent of the construction costs. The state help no longer exists but as many of you know we qualify for a federal stimulus program (QSCB). This can easily save us in excess of $1,000,000 over the term of the loan. We are being fiscally responsible in taking advantage of the QSCB bonds. This is likely a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Responses from the public about the bond issue which was voted down on Nov. 3 indicated that the project should be made smaller and more student based. We responded to that public input and I believe the new proposal is very modest. It gets our students out of basements and closets. It provides adequate space and a positive atmosphere. It's a good investment for less than 40 cents per day.

In the 25 years that I have represented the taxpayers in the Menahga School District, I have supported those issues that I thought protected the financial status of our school but also kept our school viable for the future. I hope that you will join me on April 13 in supporting this referendum and the students of Menahga.

Curtis Hasbargen

Menahga School Board Treasurer

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