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ACGC voters reject levy to raise additional revenue

GROVE CITY -- Voters in the Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City School District Thursday rejected by a wide margin a school referendum to generate new revenue for the district.

The ACGC levy failed on an unofficial count of:

No: 1,253

Yes: 802

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 have generated about $438,000 every year for the seven-year life of the levy.

Ballot counting on the special school levy was completed at 5:15 a.m. Friday at the Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City School District.

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. Thursday, Kyllingstad said the actual voting of the ballots hadn't yet begun.

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 prior to the results being known.

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

The added revenue was sought, Kyllingstad said 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 undesignated 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.

With the operating levy being defeated, cuts to staff and programs will be even deeper, said Kyllingstad projected.

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

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

Carolyn Lange

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

(320) 894-9750