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Voters will decide fate of upgrades at LP-A

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news Detroit Lakes, 56501
Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

Lake Park-Audubon School District residents will have one more chance to vote on building a new high school and remodeling the elementary school in May.

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During a special school board meeting Wednesday afternoon, the board unanimously voted in favor of a resolution to call for an election May 25 on a building referendum. The difference this time around is the help of federal monies.

Due to the federal stimulus program, the Minnesota Department of Education chose the LP-A school district for a one-time opportunity to receive $17.3 million in Qualified School Construction Bonds and $1.7 million in Qualified Zone Academy Bonds.

Joel Sutter of Ehlers & Associates said this is the second highest allocated in the state, the highest amount going to South Washington County District.

Sutter, who spoke at the board meeting Wednesday, said, "This is not new, but it's a new and unique opportunity."

"It's nothing you haven't seen before," agreed Superintendent Dale Hoagie to board members.

The difference is, he continued, they will have assistance worth $19 million on the $21 million project.

"That's the anticipated amount. It may fluctuate a bit but this is a maximum," he said.

The loan would also only be 17 years, as opposed to the 20-year loan from the last referendum proposal that was defeated.

"This will significantly change the total project cost," Hoagie said of the federal help.

Sutter told the board that the district is fortunate to be approved for this opportunity this year rather than last because of some glitches in the past.

"The bonds weren't working how the government had planned because they weren't interest free," he said.

Although the numbers are preliminary, it's estimated that taxes on a $100,000 house will increase $131 for 17 years. The previous referendum would have increased them $162 a year for 20 years.

"This number could go up but I'm certain it will be under the $162," Sutter said of the $131.

The board set two public meetings -- April 26 and May 6 -- at 7 p.m. with the locations to be determined before the vote.

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