Taxpayers in Pine Island could see an increase - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Taxpayers in Pine Island could see an increase


PINE ISLAND, Minn. (KTTC) -- The big question on the minds of many school district leaders Tuesday is how can they control spending, without affecting students' education?

The Pine Island school district is asking taxpayers to renew a 10-year levy set to expire in 2013, that has been putting $500 towards each student's yearly education. While that request would not raise taxes, a second question on the ballot may do so.

It's no surprise school districts across the state rely on extra funding, like local property tax levies to operate schools. In recent years state government funding of local education has left districts strapped for cash, scrambling to meet rising costs.

"I think it's a good school district. We just need a little more money, so the kids can continue to get the education they deserve," said Jay Strande, a Pine Island resident.

The Pine Island school district has two questions on its ballot. The first asks taxpayers to extend a 10-year levy expiring two years from now, that puts $500 towards each student's yearly education.

"I hope that will pass, we're going to be in deep trouble if that doesn't pass," said Susan Sauter, with Pine Island public school.

If voters reject the levy extension, officials say more than $625,000 would need to be cut from the district's annual budget. Some athletic and academic programs could be eliminated and up to 12 teachers could lose their jobs.

"The second question is to raise the per pupil spending by $200, which would not necessarily bring us up to current inflationary standards," explained Sauter.

Here is a breakdown of how much Pine Island district property taxes will go up if voters choose to raise per-pupil spending by $200 on that second question. People with taxable market value of $150,000 could see a yearly increase of $63. The only way the second question can pass, is if voters chose to renew the first question that 10-year levy renewal.

"If you think about it $63 a month, 12 months out of the year, it's only about $5, I think I can handle an extra $5 so my kids get a good education," said Strande.

While many people are in support of the increase, Mariah Wittlief is not.

"The economy and everything the way it is, the timing just isn't right," stated Wittlief.

According to the district, election polls are open from 8 A.M. until 8 in the evening, at St. Paul's Lutheran Church, in Pine Island.

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