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District will not act on new levy authority

Though districts across the state were recently granted the authority to raise their per average pupil unit (APU) funding up to $300 without public vote, the Pequot Lakes School District will make no change to its current $1 per APU levy.

The school board made the decision not to change its per APU funding at its regular meeting Monday, Aug. 19, following the recommendation of superintendent Chris Lindholm.

“I cannot in good faith ask district residents to increase their property tax commitment to the district without a justified and well-articulated strategic plan that clearly explains the results they can expect in return,” Lindholm stated in a memo to the board. “The recent support of our community to fund a three-year facilities improvement effort through a bond referendum only augments our need to be clear about how we justify any increase in property tax revenues.”

The board agreed with Lindholm and voted against increasing that levy unanimously.

As background, Lindholm told the board that $300 per APU would have increased the district’s funding by $788,000. It would have cost taxpayers an estimated $68 for a household valued at $200,000. Lindholm explained that some of the money would have come from homestead and commercial property and some would have come from state grants.

The legislation passed last June gives school boards the authority to raise the levy for the next five years, so it’s possible the board could revisit the matter in the coming years, unless legislation changes. Though the board does not have a strategic plan at this time, it has work sessions planned in the coming months in order to develop a strategic plan.

“I’m a huge advocate for doing better for kids, and revenue’s going to help us do that, so I do foresee us wrestling with this question a year from now, two years from now,” Lindholm said.