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Voters say ‘yes’ to levy

By Staff | Nov 9, 2009

It was a landslide victory for education and Blue Earth Area students Tuesday night as voters approved renewing the district’s five-year operating excess levy.

“Fantastic. Fantastic,” was school board chairman Frankie Bly’s response when all the votes were finally tallied.

Final results show 1,199 people — or 82 percent –voted in favor of the referendum, while 270 did not want to renew the levy.

Superintendent Dale Brandsoy says he was pleased with voter turnout and the support of all five communities in the district.

“It’s an overwhelming show of support. We think it’s a real vote of confidence for the Blue Earth Area staff and the students,” he says.

Of the district’s 4,917 registered voters, nearly 30 percent went to the polls on Tuesday.

Brandsoy says he was concerned with the outcome because the levy was the only question on the ballot.

He also wondered how current economic conditions would affect people’s vote.

“That’s why the board was determined to keep the amount the same and did not increase anything,” he says.

The superintendent praised the “Vote Yes! Committee” for getting information out to the voters before election day.

School board member Shane Becker — also on the “Vote Yes! Committee” — says the group’s hard work paid off and their message got out to everybody.

“It’s good for the school district and the kids of Blue Earth Area School district,” he says. “It’s a way to help ensure a good quality education for all the students of Blue Earth Area.”

As results began to trickle in during the night, it became evident the referendum was going to pass.

Blue Earth’s count of 688 “yes” and 106 “no” put the total at 1,023 for the levy and 208 against with just Winnebago votes to becounted.

“When I left home tonight I told my wife we needed just one more ‘yes’ vote than ‘no’ to pass it. This makes a big statement,” says Brandsoy, when learning of the Blue Earth vote.

“It will be a lot easier to make (budget) decisions now,” adds Bly.

Approval of the tax levy means the district will generate $650 per pupil, or about $900,000 a year. Of this amount, the state would pay about half to the district.

Despite passage of the referendum, Brandsoy says the board will still need to make some cuts to balance the budget.

“Basically, due to rising costs of different items we do not have control over, plus the loss of students … we will have to continue looking at reductions,” he says. “We’ve done that every year to keep our revenues and expenditures in line.”

The board will canvass the results tonight before the referendum is placed on the district’s levy sheets.