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Funding for government lapses as short-term spending bill stalls in the Senate

ACGC decides on Dec. 1 for its special election regarding levy

GROVE CITY -- A special election will be held Dec. 1 in the Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City School District to decide whether or not to increase the general education revenue with a second operating levy.

The election will be by mail-in ballot.

At its meeting Monday, the ACGC School Board unanimously set the level of the proposed new levy at $450 per pupil-unit. With the levy and aid, that amount would generate to the district an additional $438,000 each year for seven years. The ACGC School District currently has a $650-per-student operating levy in place that voters approved in 2003.

That levy will expire in 2010. The district is in statutory operating debt, meaning it has been deficit spending beyond levels allowed by the state. Superintendent Pamela Kyllingstad said the district needs to submit a plan to the state for getting out of statutory operating debt in three years. With a combination of budget cuts and new revenue from the proposed levy, Kyllingstad said the district can get out of statutory operating debt within three years and maintain a fund balance through 2010.

Under Minnesota statute, statutory operating debt occurs when a district's operating fund is a negative amount that exceeds 2.5 percent of operating expenses.

The ACGC board considered a range of amounts for the proposed levy but voted unanimously that $450 per pupil-unit would be enough. Earlier this month, the board had considered $750. After working through a financial spreadsheet, Kyllingstad said the board decided "we didn't need to go that high."

The budget cuts that would accompany a new levy would no doubt include reducing personnel. At the meeting Monday, the board agreed to direct principals to "curb building spending" for travel and supplies only to essential expenditures. High school field trips will also be restricted unless they are "completely" paid for with student contributions.

The board hasn't "gotten down to the nitty-gritty" of what will happen if the proposed levy fails, but Kyllingstad said the board will have to "look at eliminating entire programs."

If approved, the new levy would mean that owners of a $60,000 home would pay an additional $90 per year in school property taxes. Someone with a $150,000 home would pay an additional $150 per year in taxes.

Kyllingstad said written information about the proposed levy and special election will be sent to voters and informational meetings will be held. It's not known yet when the ballots will be mailed out, but law requires them to be mailed at least 20 days, and no more than 30 days, prior to the election.

They must be returned by 8 p.m. Dec. 1. One polling place will be open from 3:30 to 8 p.m. Dec.1 at the junior/senior high school in Grove City for people to cast their ballots.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for 35 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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