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A Rundown of the Proposed Richfield Referendum

Richfield Patch breaks down what voters are being asked for on the ballot this fall.

Once again Richfield voters will be charged with voting for or against a proposed referendum, or operating levy, this November.

Richfield Public Schools Superintendent Bob Slotterback presented the measure at a recent League of Women Voters of Richfield candidate forum in late September.

So, what are voters being asked when they hit the polls on Nov. 6? Here’s the rundown:

There will be two ballot questions before voters

The existing referendum is set to expire at the end of the 2012-13 school year and there will be two related questions on the ballot.

The first question will ask voters if they would like to renew the existing levy. If the renewal passes, there will be no additional property tax increase, as there are no additional funds requested. Slotterback called this the “tax-neutral” option.

The second question, however, will ask voters if they would support a roughly $60 increase in per pupil spending if the renewal passes. This would result in a property tax increase of $16 per year for the average homeowner, according to Slotterback. The $16 figure was calculated by using the average home value in Richfield, which is $169,022.

the board asked to revoke the current referendum and replace it with one at $416.40 per pupil; $115 increase. This would've resulted in a tax increase of about $119 per year.

Why does the district need more funds?

With rising operating costs and state payments remaining flat over the past few years, Slotterback said the additional money gained would account for the rise in inflation over the next decade.

“The board wanted to be as fiscally conservative as possible,” Slotterback said. “[The board] looked at the 10-year timeline and estimated there was about a 2 percent rate of inflation.”

With that said, the extra money is only to cover inflation. There will not be new extra-curricular activities or course offerings added.

What happens if the measures fail?

If both questions fail, the district will have to cut up to $3.7 million, according to Slotterback. The cuts are based on a number of factors including enrollment numbers and increased costs. In addition, class sizes will increase by up to 8 students in each class and athletic and school fees will likely go up. Athletic and educational offerings may also be cut.

What happens if the measures pass?

Even if the renewal and increase pass, Slotterback said the district will still need to make cuts to the tune of about $1.2 million. Of course, this means increasing class sizes, potential increases in fees and programming cuts will be necessary with this scenario, too. However, the cuts and increases wouldn’t be as drastic as they would be if both questions were to fail.

Slotterback is also holding additional informational sessions on the subject at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 23 at Richfield S.T.E.M. School and 6:30 p.m. Oct. 29 at Centennial Elementary School. The Centennial event will feature Spanish translation.

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Other related articles:

  • Richfield School Board Considers Referendum Renewal
  • School Finance 101: How Does Richfield Make Its Money?
  • UPDATED: School Board Proposes Two Referendum Questions For 2012 Ballot
  • Best School Option Equals Sheridan Hills; Vote 'Yes' to Referendum: Letter to the Editor
  • Letter: Vote 'Yes' on Referendum and Reaffirm What Richfield Stands For

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See Richfield Patch's Election Guide.

Do you have something to say about the proposed referendum? Send your Letter to the Editor to caitlin.burgess@patch.com.

Sean Hayford Oleary October 18, 2012 at 03:47 PM
While I'm sure I'll be voting "no" on a couple other ballot questions, I'll be happy to vote "yes" on these. It's a shame that we have to resort to regressive property taxes to fund our schools, rather than more money coming from the state, but the schools shouldn't be punished for that unfortunate political reality.

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