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Frazee-Vergas School passes new referendum

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Like many of the races throughout the state of Minnesota Tuesday night, it was hard to say with certainty if the voters of the Frazee-Vergas School District passed the operating referendum until all the votes were reported.

Voters passed the $700 per pupil levy with about a 300-vote margin. Yes votes totaled 1,866 in Becker and Ottertail counties, and no votes totaled 1,555.

"There are many individuals in the district who are really pleased with the support and affirmation of our program and (investment in) our kids," Superintendent Chuck Cheney said. "We're quite pleased."

"I'm obviously very pleased with the turnout and how the vote went," Board Chair Matt Bauer said. "It says a lot about our district and we'll maintain the great thing we have going."

The school district is operating on a $1,000 per pupil levy, which runs out next summer. The $700 levy will pick up where that one leaves off and run for five years.

As results came in Tuesday night, the "yes" and "no" majority teetered back and forth with each precinct that reported. Cheney said there were hurdles the district had to overcome to pass the referendum.

First, there was the challenge of holding a referendum vote on a presidential election year, because of the high voter turnout. Secondly, the ballot legally had to read that voting yes for the referendum would raise property taxes.

Since the district is already operating on a higher levy though, the decreased referendum will now lower taxes about 30 percent.

For example, the owner of a $100,000 house paying $224 in school referendum tax will now see it reduced to $149 with the $700 levy passage.

"We're thankful to the voters and taxpayers of the district," Cheney said of passing the referendum. "In these next five years, I think we'll be in a comfortable position to move forward."

The school board will also be seeing a couple new faces in January. Six candidates were running for three seats on the board.

Winners include incumbent Steve Jepson (2,194 votes), Don Trieglaff (1,860 votes) and Tammie Nunn (1,263 votes).

The other three candidates included Mary Lepisto (1,174 votes), Amie Erickson (1,004 votes) and incumbent Dana Laine (827 votes).

Trieglaff said Wednesday morning that he was "absolutely" happy to be elected to the board.

"It's another challenge out there and I look forward to it," he said.

Trieglaff said he's also happy the referendum passed.

"It's difficult to run an agenda without it. All in all, I think it's good for everyone," he said.

"I just want to thank everyone who took the time to vote whether it was for me or for any of the candidates," Nunn said. "I also want to let everyone know I will do the best I can and I am honored to serve the Frazee School District as a board member."

Frazee City Council

The incumbents will continue to serve on the Frazee City Council.

Dave Jopp II and Donna Ouart were re-elected to the council with 329 and 309 votes, respectively. Challenger John Dermody garnered 183 votes, and there were nine write-in votes.

Follow Pippi Mayfield on Twitter at @PippiMayfield.