NEW ULM - Voters in District 88 said "no" to a new operating levy of $725 per pupil unit per year, in a local referendum Tuesday.
Of 4,712 ballots cast in three polling places, 2,493 were against the levy, 2,184 were for it and 35 were invalid.
The majority of votes cast at the polling places in New Ulm and Lafayette were against the levy, and the majority of votes cast in Hanska favored it. (See table).
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
People filled the auditorium at the District Administrative Center in New Ulm to vote on the District 88 levy referendum Tuesday.
"It is disappointing that residents [of District 88] did not recognize the full impact of the referendum vote," said Superintendent Harold Remme. "Local business, industry, commercial climates will be negatively impacted, as well as residential property values."
"The failure of the proposed levy will force the school district to move forward with plans to develop future budgets reflective of significant revenue reductions," added Remme. "Plans will be forthcoming for analysis of revenue shortfalls for the 2012-13 school year. A timely process for consideration of program alterations will be developed for school board action over the next few months."
A long-term school board member, Susan Nierengarten, said:
Area Election Results
*DISTRICT: New Ulm
LEVY AMOUNT/LENGTH: Additional $725 per pupil for 10 years
*RESULT: No2,493 Yes2,184
4,712 of around 11,000 Registered Voters43% Voter Turnout
Breakdown By Polling Place:
New Ulm: No2,321 Yes2,036
Hanska: Yes88 No77
Lafayette: No95 Yes60
LEVY AMOUNT/LENGTH: Renew $700 per pupil for 6 years
*RESULT: Yes607 No104
*DISTRICT: Cedar Mountain
LEVY AMOUNT/LENGTH: Renew $290 per pupil for 10 years
*RESULT: Yes320 No32
LEVY AMOUNT/LENGTH: Revoke $468 per pupil and replace with $870 for 10 years
*RESULT: Yes898 No512
Breakdown By Polling Place:
Gibbon: Yes284 No139
Fairfax: Yes280 No156
Winthrop: Yes307 No209
Absentee: Yes27 No8
*DISTRICT: Glencoe-Silver Lake
LEVY AMOUNT/LENGTH: Renew $727 per pupil for 7 years
Building Bond: $18.5 million to update high school & close elementary
*RESULTS: Operating Levy: Yes2,163 No1,212
Bond Issue: No1,833 Yes1,544
LEVY AMOUNT/LENGTH: Revoke $572 per pupil and replace with $1,485 for 8 years
*RESULT: Yes1,010 No812
*DISTRICT: Le Sueur-Henderson
LEVY AMOUNT/LENGTH: Question 1: Additional $350 per pupil for 6 years
Question 2: Additional $150 per pupil for 6 years
*RESULTS: Question 1: Yes1,453 No852
Question 2: Yes1,260 No:1,036
LEVY AMOUNT/LENGTH: Increase from $700 per pupil to $1,200 for 10 years.
*RESULT: No376 Yes332 (44 Vote Difference)
LEVY AMOUNT/LENGTH: Question 1: Renew $800 per pupil for 5 yearsQuestion 2: Additional $300 per pupil for 5 years
*RESULTS: Question 1: Yes549 No145 (3 Under-Votes)
Question 2: Yes455 No240 (2 Under-Votes)
697 of 1,507 Registered Voters46% Voter Turnout
*DISTRICT: Redwood Area
LEVY AMOUNT/LENGTH: Question 1: Renew $500 per pupil for 10 years
Question 2: Additional $400 per pupil for 10 years
*RESULTS: Question 1: Yes1,422 No181
Question 2: Yes1,199 No402
*DISTRICT: Sibley East
LEVY AMOUNT/LENGTH: Renew $600 per pupil for 7 years
*RESULT: Yes852 No332
Breakdown By Polling Place:
Arlington: Yes375 No138
Gaylord: Yes314 No102
Green Isle: Yes118 No79
Absentee: Yes45 No13
*DISTRICT: Sleepy Eye
LEVY AMOUNT/LENGTH: Question 1: New $750 per pupil for 7 yearsQuestion 2: Additional $250 per pupil for 7 years
*RESULTS: Question 1: No739 Yes456
Question 2: No802 Yes396
*DISTRICT: St. Peter
LEVY AMOUNT/LENGTH: Revoke $310 per pupil and replace with $550 for 10 years
*RESULT: Yes1,290 No859
LEVY AMOUNT/LENGTH: Renew $256 per pupil for 10 years
*RESULT: Yes231 No80
LEVY AMOUNT/LENGTH: New $700 per pupil for 6 years
*RESULT: Yes2,062 No1,292
"The outcome is beyond disappointing. This makes our financial circumstances more dire than they have ever been. I know that the school board, administration, teachers and all employees of the district will do our best to continue to provide a good education for our students. But I am afraid that all of our academic and extracurricular programs will suffer, and that we will not be able to give our kids the quantity and quality of educational opportunities they need and deserve."
The new levy was intended to partially counteract years of flat state funding and rising health insurance and utility costs. It would have added an extra $1.6 million a year to the operating fund.
In New Ulm, voter-approved local levies currently raise a combined $776 per pupil unit per year (factoring in an inflation adjustment). These levies add about $1.7 million to the budget.
One of the levies, $300 per pupil (plus an inflation adjustment) expires in 2017; another, $453 per pupil, was renewed for ten years in 2010.
The median state voter-approved levy is $990.
District 88's operating spending now totals $20.5 million, with an additional $750,000 in the food service fund; $790,000 in the community service fund; and $1.5 million in the debt service fund.
All local taxes (voter approved and other) amount to 15 percent of the district's budget; state funding is 80 percent; federal funding is 3 percent; and other sources make up 2 percent.
The levy request came despite years of budget cuts.
Most recently, the district cut $1.3 million in programming this year; $895,500 in 2010; $298,000 in 2009; $146,478 in 2008; $584,100 in 2007; and $922,200 in 2006, according to information provided by school officials.
Over the past 15 years, the school system has eliminated the equivalent of 44 full-time teaching positions; two principals; nine central office and three site-specific clerical positions; and 2.5 custodial positions. These cuts total 60.5 contracts.