Archive for September, 2008

281 School Board shaves off $107,000 and proposes a $44.4 million tax levy. Thanks, but no thanks.

September 26, 2008

With 281 district enrollment and school performance declining, your taxes should be, too. But not if the Robbinsdale School Board has their way. An email from Robbinsdale Schools today had this clip:

The Robbinsdale Area School Board approved a $44.4 million proposed tax levy at its meeting of Sept. 22, a decrease of $107,000 from the previous year, and the third year of stable or lower levies. The maximum 2008 tax levy, payable 2009, that the board could have levied was $45.7 million, but the board accepted the recommendation of the Financial Advisory Council to decrease the building construction levy by $1.3 million because the district’s major facilities deferred maintenance (renovation) projects have slowed. In comparison, the district levied $47.7 million in 1990, $50.4 million in 1995, and $51.1 million in 2000. The levy amount will increase if a levy referendum is approved on Nov. 4.

The total tax levy includes revenue for the operating fund, which provides revenue for the district’s general and transportation fund; the building construction fund, which provides revenue for deferred maintenance of district facilities; the community education fund; and the debt service fund. The general fund levy, which is mainly based on enrollment, will decrease by $910,000. This decrease is in the capital expenditure portion of the fund used for equipment purchases. Debt service, which pays the principal and interest on bonds sold for deferred maintenance on district buildings, will increase by $1.9 million. The district has completed major deferred maintenance of 11 district schools over the last 10 years, extending their life by an estimated 40 – 50 years.

The board’s approval of the proposed levy is the next step in the budgeting process for the 2009-10 school year. Because the levy would decrease, the district is not required to hold a Truth-in-Taxation hearing, but will offer the opportunity for taxpayers to comment at 7 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 2 in the Education Service Center boardroom, 4148 Winnetka Ave. N., New Hope.

December 2 – one month after the election! Do go and voice your opinions (though it’s too late, at least you’ll be heard).

For now, you can contact 281 CARE and help defeat the referendum again this year. Tell District 281 that no means NO!

Yes 281 Calls On Higher Power to Help Raise Your Taxes

September 20, 2008

That was my first reaction when finding out the venue for their rally September 20 reported by the Sun-Post:

A community group supporting more funding for Robbinsdale Area Schools District 281 through an increase in property taxes will host a rally at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 20, at Holy Nativity Lutheran Church, 3900 Winnetka Ave. N., New Hope.

Checking my Bible, I recall that Jesus sat and ate with Levi (a tax collector). He came to seek and save the lost, and even chose a tax collector (Matthew) as a disciple (note that Matthew gave up his tax collecting gig to pursue a much higher calling). I’d love to know why Yes 281 chose that venue for a rally to raise our taxes.

The next thing you might find is an offering plate going around at the next School Board meeting.

What is the 281 School Board hiding from the public?

September 17, 2008

Speed Gibson blog notes an interesting and disturbing trend with increasing “work sessions” that are closed to the public and press (bold emphasis mine).

Earlier, I wrote about how local governments seem to be holding more work sessions. Critics quoted in the original Minneapolis Star Tribune article feel that too much important business is finding its way into these meetings, away from TV cameras and routine press coverage. Based on my own experiences, though, I didn’t see much of a problem as these meetings are public by law, with few exceptions.

I may have to reconsider, given tonight’s meeting of the District 281 School Board, held tonight, September 15.

  1. The meeting is not listed on the District web site, even now. This also means no agenda was published.
  2. The meeting is still listed as a under announcements in last week’s Agenda.
  3. It is also referenced in a Web article about the upcoming Facilities Study, to be discussed at that work session.
  4. The agenda handed out says “Work/Special Session” meaning that they will go into formal session for a portion of the meeting, which was not televised.
  5. Ryan Development and The City of New Hope made presentations on the proposed relocation of District headquarters and the bus garage. This was major content and should have been done in a regular, televised session in my opinion.
  6. As such, the ESC boardroom was overcrowded. At a minimum, the adjoining overflow area should have been opened.

I’m hoping this was an anomaly, as they were clearly having some technical issues with the web site the past few days. But nothing even hinted at going into session, i.e., where votes could be taken. I wonder if such votes could be legally challenged, given that there was no notice.

The Board needs to address this administrative lapse, making clear just what their policy is regarding giving notice, including agendas. Their policy on receiving significant external input at work sessions and special sessions should also be clarified.