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Menahga compliance with ADA could trigger tax hike

An architectural drawing by JP Structures, Inc., shows a multi-purpose room will be located where the current ag shop is. Classes held in the ag shop will be moved to the wood shop to the west among other locations.

Menahga School District property owners could face an increase in property taxes for facility improvements to the school to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

"Tonight we're here to talk about addressing our needs that we have as far as accessibility for all students," said Menahga Superintendent Mary Klamm.

The major problem area is the basement, where the locker rooms, weight room and wrestling facilities are located.

"The issue is that we have physical education going on in the wrestling room," she said.

When looking at ADA rules, it says state and local governments must relocate programs or otherwise provide access in other buildings, Klamm said. Because the state provides funds for the district to utilize, it isn't considered an undue financial hardship.

The district is looking to utilize funds through a Disabled Access Revenue levy and Lease Purchase levy.

Many school districts across the state have already utilized the Disabled Access Revenue levy funds, Klamm said. A failed referendum vote in November prompted this action.

"This district, in the hopes of being able to pass a referendum, chose not to do that," Klamm said. "We still have those needs, so we are going to access those funds."

The district will utilize $280,000 through the Disabled Access Revenue funding and $500,000 in Lease Purchase funding.

The plan to address the ADA needs is to renovate the ag shop into a multi-purpose room that can be used for physical education classes. It will likely be used six periods a day. Currently, two periods a day are used for ag classes. Welding classes will need to be placed in the wood shop.

Stephen Halonen, project manager with JP Structures, Inc., said that the project isn't ideal but the district is working with what options it has available.

The welding and wood shop classes won't be held at the same time, he said.

An addition will be made to the east of the current gym and hallway for handicapped accessible locker rooms and a weight room. This will leave the basement open for storage, Klamm said.

The tax impact for the proposed building project is about $80 on a $100,000 home for the Disabled Access levy. This is for one year only.

The district will refinance the already existing Lease Purchase levy to combine it with the proposed levy for the building project. The total for the new levy will be about $1 million over 15 years.

The tax impact on this portion is about $31 per year for 15 years on a $100,000 home.

Klamm said this building project is just the beginning of other renovations that will need to be made to accommodate increased class sizes.

"Our prediction is we'll gain six to eight kids next year, 30 the year after and 18 the next year," she said.

The district is looking to do the ADA building project during the summer of 2011.

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
(218) 631-2561