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No levy this year for Farmington schools

The Farmington School District has closed the door, at least for this year, on the idea of asking voters for any extra money.

Three board members voted Monday against a resolution that would have authorized the district to put an operating levy on the Nov. 5 ballot. The early decision was necessary because of state rules that this year require districts to declare by June 30 whether they plan to put a levy on the ballot. Superintendent Jay Haugen and finance director Carl Colmark told board members this week that voting now to put a levy on the ballot would be mostly a placeholder to allow for further discussion as the district tries to decide whether a levy is necessary.

"My reason for thinking we maybe should talk about this (levy) is not because of what we know, but of what we don't know," Haugen said. "I'm still not confident we have the whole picture."

Because of changes this year in the way the state funds education there are still some questions about what the district's finances will look like come November, but there are some positive signs. Thanks to those changes, Colmark told board members Monday, the district could have more revenue next year while reducing property taxes by $600,000. He said the district could also ask voters to approve a new operating levy that would raise $1.4 million for the district without resulting in higher taxes for residents.

Because many of the state's changes came late in the legislative session, though, many districts are still figuring out exactly what they mean for the bottom line.

Some board members were in favor of at least keeping the door open for further discussion.

"The fact we have questions is a good reason to keep the discussion going," board chair Tera Lee said. "If we don't pass this, we've tied our hands."

Others saw little reason to discuss a levy they were unlikely to put on the ballot in November.

"I'm not sure it's worth taking the time to explore it when there's other things we can be working on," board member Melissa Sauser said.

Sauser, Laura Beem and Julie Singewald all voted against a resolution that would have preserved the possibility of a levy on the November ballot.

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

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