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ACGC votes on levy; results unknown

GROVE CITY -- Ballots for a special school levy were being counted late into the night Thursday and probably well into the early hours of this morning in the Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City School District.

Residents voted on whether or not to raise school taxes to generate new revenue for the district.

The results of the election were not known by press time.

Superintendent Pamela Kyllingstad said the numerous steps for processing the mail-in ballots was "much more time consuming than expected."

The process included opening a double set of envelopes, validating the signatures of the voter and a witness, checking the voter's name against the roster, initialing the ballot as acceptable and then counting the ballot.

When contacted shortly before 11 p.m., Kyllingstad said the actual voting of the ballots hadn't yet begun. She said an election judge told her the results wouldn't be known until this morning.

The number of votes cast wasn't known, but Kyllingstad said there was a good return of the mail-in ballots and a considerable number of residents voted on-site on Thursday at the district office.

"I'm very impressed that people cared enough to vote, no matter which way this goes," she said.

Residents were asked to vote yes or no on a request to place an additional $450 per pupil unit levy on the school district's property taxes. If approved, the levy would generate about $438,000 every year for the seven-year life of the levy.

The district voters approved a $650 per pupil-unit operating levy in 2003 that expires in 2010.

The added revenue is needed, said Kyllingstad in a previous interview, to help get the district out of statutory operating debt -- a term in state law that refers to deficit spending of more than 2.5 percent of un-designated general fund revenues.

By law, the district must submit a plan to the state to get out of statutory operating debt within three years. Besides raising new revenue to get out of debt with the proposed levy, the school board also intends to cut expenses by reducing staff and some programs.

If the operating levy is defeated, cuts to staff and programs will be even deeper, said Kyllingstad.

The proposed school levy would increase property taxes by $90 a year on a $60,000 home and $150 on a $100,000 home. For agricultural land, the levy would apply only to the house, garage and one acre of land. Seasonal recreational residential property is not affected by the proposed levy.

The ACGC School Board will meet at 5:30 p.m. on Monday to canvass the vote results.

Carolyn Lange

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

(320) 894-9750