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Richfield Public Schools Ask Voters for More Funds

Battling a variety of budget problems, Richfield asks its residents to approve an increase in student spending, thus raising their property taxes.

Come November 2012, Richfield residents will have the option to vote on a measure that would call for an increase in the amount of marginal cost-per-pupil spending—thereby increasing property taxes.

The approved a special election ballot Monday night that would revoke the current referendum per-pupil number—which is $301.40—and authorize $717.40 as the new amount, a net increase of $416. The referendum would be effective for taxes paid in 2012 and would be applicable for 10 years. The ballot approved by the board states that voting "yes" on the ballot means voting for a property tax increase.

If the referendum was approved this fall, said the new annual costs to taxpayers per household, with an average home value of $185,800, would be $119. 

Without the increase, Shwartz estimated that funds from the existing referendum would expire in June of 2013. If that were to occur, the district is projecting a fund balance of only $200,0000—which is well below a sustainable balance. In addition, the district would face additional, deep cuts.

, board Chairman Peter Toensing said it will be money well spent and they have a strong case to bring it to the community.

was also in attendance on behalf of the city Monday, to show her support for the measure.

Before closing the meeting, said: "I want everyone to know administratively whatever money we have, we will work with it and do the very best job we can."

The special election will be held in conjunction with , taking place Nov. 8.

joe November 08, 2011 at 09:08 PM
Kind of makes me think. Now all they talk about is cuts. What about all the years they were adding to programs and administrators. Maybe they should have been adding to a rainy day fund rather than spending all the increases like all of us should budget.
Caitlin Burgess November 08, 2011 at 09:22 PM
Yeah, I get your point Joe. But at the same time I doubt they were adding programs and administrators just to spend frivolously. Of course, it would've be best to hold some money away, but I'm sure increasing offerings to students and having more staff to support them was done with the best intentions.
Kevin Maleck November 09, 2011 at 12:00 AM
Our schools have cut costs and will be cutting into the bone if the levy doesn't pass. Putting the quality of our student's experience aside, one should look at the effect the general desirabilityof our schools has on property values in a market where there has been a static number of single family homes for decades. Imagine yourself, a family with children about to enter school or a family planning to find a home. Some of the first things you may look at are things such as school programs, class sizes, facilities, etc. That affects market pressures that ultimately determine the price of a home. IN Richfield's case, nearly a quarter of homes have school families and a high number house an aging population that will become prospective purchaches for future families. I would trust that most would want Richfield to be the place others want to be more than other cities. That drives home prices up much more than $120 per year.
Kevin Maleck November 09, 2011 at 12:00 AM
Further, prior to 1970, ALL school funding was via local levies. The state moved to level the playing field somewhat by funding schools and capping the amount a city can levy. That was a good plan. There is still something to be said for keeping some funding local - it keeps accountability local. Either way, we pay. We pay to the fed, we pay to the state or we pay to the city. I argue that Fed money tends to be spent more recklessly. You may also find solice in the fact that Richfield, AFTER the levy, will still fund less per pupil than any of our neighboring suburbs. Want to make your voice heard? there are many forums. Dr Slotterback hosts a advisory committee meeting once a month. You may contact board members. You may run for school board. You may vote. Want a better idea of what is going on? Volunteer. In fact, if you are good at math - we are working on a tutoring program and would love the help. It is an enlightening experience.
Brie Shultz November 09, 2011 at 01:51 AM
There was over 750 votes cast in my precinct around 6pm. A lot of elderly seniors were voting. I was the youngest one there. It will be interesting to see how it nets out. What I don't get is; the state keeps borrowing from schools to balance the budget for the last few years, so, if this money wasn't be borrowed for other things, would it go directly to the schools and then there would be no need for this referendum? Our legislators didn't want to raise taxes on the top 1% or use new sources of revenue (racinos) last summer to balance the budget, but now most likely our property taxes are going to go up because of that.

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