BELGRADE — Voters in the Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa School District overwhelmingly approved all three questions on the ballot Tuesday.
The results mean the district will proceed with $20 million in facility improvement projects over the next two years and will implement a new operating levy that will generate $275,000 in annual revenue for the next 10 years.
“Exhilarating,” was how BBE Superintendent Patrick Walsh described the results.
Unofficial results indicate all three ballot questions were approved by a nearly 70% margin.
Passage of the new operating levy and building bonds will result in higher property taxes.
Walsh said the fact that residents voted for all three proposals — and voted to increase their taxes — was a testament to residents’ support for their students and schools.
“I can’t help but feel very appreciative of the community’s support of the ideas we’ve put forward,” Walsh said.
According to Walsh, a proposal to revoke the district’s existing $212-per-pupil operating levy and replace it with a new $661-per-pupil levy was approved on a vote of 608 to 244, a margin of 71% to 29%
A second question on the ballot for a $16.9 million bond proposal was approved on a vote of 587-263, a margin of 69% in favor to 31% against, according to Walsh.
Money from that bond will fund a number of facility improvement projects at the 1964-era elementary school building in Brooten and the 1973-era junior/high school in Belgrade.
A separate $2.98 million proposal, which will fund additional renovations, was approved on a vote of 570 to 276, a margin of 67% to 33%.
About $10 million of the $20 million overall bond total will be spent on long-term deferred maintenance projects like upgrading the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning and electrical infrastructure.
Another $10 million will be spent on upgrading and expanding facilities. Projects on that list include moving the district and high school offices, creating a new secure entrance and upgrading classrooms and student spaces at the high school, and building a new cafeteria, new secure entrance and expanding the district’s Jaguar Kids Connection day care at the elementary school.
A school building bond agricultural credit means that about $12 million will come from local taxpayers and $8 million will come from state taxpayers.
Walsh said about two-thirds of all the property wealth in the BBE district is agriculture. The tax credit is designed to help ease the tax burden on ag producers in rural districts.
Some of the construction projects will begin this summer with all the work scheduled for completion in 2021.