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Lake Park-Audubon seeks operating levy increase in November vote

The Lake Park-Audubon School Board decided Monday to ask voters to approve a $750-per-student, seven-year operating levy in November.

The district's current $500-per-student operating levy runs out after next year. If approved by voters Nov. 3, the higher levy would cancel the existing operating levy for next year and replace it with the new levy.

The extra money is badly needed because state funding has been essentially frozen: The district had to cut more than $225,000 from its budget this year, and is asking teachers to accept a pay freeze.

The school district's total share of the property tax bill is currently $130 on a $100,000 residential homestead.

That would increase to a total of $169 if voters approve the new operating levy.

In related news, the board opted not to pursue about $1.8 million in interest-free bonding authority it was granted by the state for this year.

That amount is only about a tenth of the amount applied for, and board members believe it is not enough to sway "no" voters to support a building bond project for school improvements.

Board members also want to focus on the operating levy referendum, since it will be devastating to district finances if the levy fails to pass.

Superintendent Dale Hogie said there is a good chance that LP-A will qualify for the full $17.3 million in QSCB bonding authority next year.

That would save the district about $11 million in interest over 16 years and might be enough to persuade residents to support a building bond package next year.

(For the entire story, see the Becker County Record on Wednesday)