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Citizens comment on GFW debt, taxes

Staff photo by Fritz Busch Greg Kiecker of rural Fairfax makes public comments at the GFW School Board meeting in the Fairfax Community Center Monday.

FAIRFAX — Two citizens made public comments at the Gibbon Fairfax Winthrop (GFW) School Board meeting with about 30 people at the Fairfax Community Center Monday.

There was no dialogue between the citizens and the school board. Comments were limited to two minutes.

Marc Kiecker asked what the total debt of the school district was if it dissolves.

“I’ve asked the question on the GFW (Schools) Facebook page but have not got an answer,” Kiecker said.

Greg Kiecker said he’s a senior property assessor in Minnesota and has been in the property appraisal field for 48 years.

“This school district has a very low tax rate,” Kiecker said. “In my 48 years of assessing, I’ve heard people say their taxes were too low maybe five times. I usually hear people ask why their taxes are so high and local and county boards of equalization. You as a board can administer taxes.”

According to the GFW website, the school district has the lowest residential taxes on a $100,000 home in the area and the second-lowest taxes on a farm homestead.

Kiecker said the last couple GFW superintendents have not lived in the school district so they “had no meat in the game.”

GFW Superintendent Jeff Horton said he plans on holding board meetings in all three communities and looks forward to more meetings in the Fairfax Community Center.

“This is my 14th day here,” Horton said. “I plan to continue to learn more during a listening tour. I’ve met many wonderful people here. Thank you for taking the time to talk to me.”

Horton said he has talked to a number of Prairie Lutheran School families with students in pre-k-grade 4 in Gibbon and grades 5-8 in Fairfax. The schools serve Lutheran churches in Fairfax, Gibbon and Winthrop.

“I’ve seen people with “GFW Vote No” and Prairie Lutheran Schools (PLS) signs in their yards,” Horton said. “We’re all in the service of helping kids. It’s not about us vs. them, especially in a global pandemic. If you want a faith-based education, go to PLS.”

“It’s just not us vs. them. It’s about a collaboration of all people,” Horton added. “We can create athletic cooperatives. Our funding sources go to support PLS too. We want to develop partnerships. We work best when we are all working together. I think that’s important.”

Horton talked about the need to be able to adapt to changes in order to meet student needs.

The Winthrop Economic Development Authority (EDA) is hosting informational meetings in which Horton will answer questions, at 3 and 7 p.m., Tuesday, July 28, at Hahn’s Dining & Lounge, 206 Main St. N., Winthrop. Coffee and cookies will be provided.

For more information, visit https://gfwschools.org

Fritz Busch can be emailed at fbusch@nujournal.com.

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