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Pequot Lakes: School board approves maximum preliminary levy

In its Monday, Sept. 18, meeting, the Pequot Lakes School Board unanimously agreed to set its preliminary levy with a maximum local option revenue of $424 per pupil.

With that revenue set at $424 per pupil, the district would operate with a total tax levy of $5,806,376 - an increase of $367,524 from this year.

When the board approves its final levy at its December meeting, it cannot exceed that total. It can, however, reduce the local option revenue if the board deems it necessary.

Board members also weighed an option to set the local option revenue at its current total, which is $325 per pupil, but decided on the maximum revenue with considerations of reducing the final levy.

"I'm not against using funds to support the district, but I think one of the things this has muddied the waters with is, 'What is a non-voter levy to be used for?'" board member Kim Bolz-Andolshek said. "That is a question I would like us to think about as we think about what the district needs and how it all fits in. I have always had a problem with any levy that the voters have no say on."

"I think 15 or 20 years ago, it would have been a fair statement to say that, how the legislation was set up, school boards didn't have the ability to do an operational levy without a public vote," superintendent Chris Lindholm said. "That was set up to say the state was going to fund the basic needs throughout the district and voter-approved levies were for the add-ons - the extra activities and programs ... There was a great disparity between the districts at the highest per-pupil funding and the lowest."

In other action, the board agreed to host its annual truth in taxation meeting at 6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 18, with its regular meeting to follow.

It also approved 15 donations made to the district, all of which went either to the Greater Lakes Area Performing Arts or students in need.

The board closed the meeting to discuss planning for upcoming teacher negotiations sessions.

Board member Brandon Andersen was not in attendance.