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USC to explain levy vote

By Staff | Sep 26, 2010

Jerry Jensen

United South Central School District officials will be hitting the road to make sure voters have all the facts before voting on an excess operating levy in November.

A series of six public informational meetings have been scheduled, with the first held on Tuesday.

Last Wednesday night, Superintendent Jerry Jensen did a “dry run” of his power point presentation for a small group of residents.

“They’ll critique me, so I am sure my presentation will change some,” says Jensen. “I want to get information and put it together so community residents find it helpful.”

The list of meetings include:

• 7 p.m., Tuesday, Walters Community Center;

• 7 p.m., Thursday, Freeborn Community Center;• 7 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 7, Bricelyn Community Center;

• 7 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 12, Kiester Community Center;

• 7 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 14, Easton Community Center;

• 7 p.m., Monday, Oct. 18, United South Central High School Media Center.

In July, the USC school board passed a resolution allowing the district’s voters to decide if the current levy should be revoked and replaced with a higher amount.

The present levy is $1,000 per pupil and is set to expire in two years. The proposed levy would be increased to $1,200 per pupil and would last for 10 years.

Jensen says the informational meetings will explain the reasons for a levy increase, the district’s financial condition and any potential tax impact on property owners.

“During strategic planning sessions the condition of our buildings was identified as an issue. The district first needs to be financially stable, then we can figure out what the best facilities plan is,” Jensen says.

Board chair Christie Wetzel is busy putting the finishing touches on an informational brochure to be mailed out to some 5,000 households in the district.

“It will be similar to the last one we did three years ago; a question and answer format,” she says. “I’m hoping to have them out to residents soon, maybe sometime the beginning of next week.”

The increased levy of $200 is expected to generate $198,000 in revenue annually. Of that amount, the state would contribute about 10 percent.

Jensen says when the last levy referendum passed the district received about half of the revenue generated annually from the state.

In other financial business, the board approved the “maximum” levy for 2010 allowed under state law.

Preliminary budget figures show the levy, which is payable in 2011, is less than last year’s. However, Jensen says proposed building projects and the outcome of the referendum vote will impact the final levy amount.