ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Litchfield school bond referendum fails, but operating levies pass in Hancock, Paynesville

Paynesville and Hancock school district voters approved operating levies in the Nov. 8 election. The Hancock levy was approved with an inflation adjustment. Paynesville voters turned down an inflation adjustment. Both levies will last 10 years. In Litchfield, voters approved a city sales tax but turned down a school bond referendum that would have added an aquatic facility to the proposed sales tax projects.

Voting
"I Voted" stickers were waiting on a chair Tuesday morning while an election judge handed them out at the polling station at the Senior Center in Willmar, Minn.
We are part of The Trust Project.

Several school districts in the area put ballot questions in front of their voters Tuesday.

Operating levies were approved in the Paynesville and Hancock districts. A second ballot question in Paynesville, which would have allowed increases at the rate of inflation, failed.

A bond referendum in Litchfield to build an aquatic facility failed.

Beckie Simenson, Litchfield superintendent, said the $13.5 million bond issue was to have been used to build an eight-lane competition pool, locker rooms and other amenities that could have been used by community members.

The referendum failed on a vote of 2,405 in favor and 2,578 opposed, a margin of 48.26% to 51.74%.

ADVERTISEMENT

Beckie Simenson.jpeg
Beckie Simenson, Litchfield Superintendent
Related:
The CROWN Act adds natural hairstyles and textures to the definition of race in the Minnesota Human Rights Act.
A 67-year-old man was pronounced deceased at the scene of a snowmobile crash, according to a news release from the Kandiyohi County Sheriff's Office.
KLQP this week marked 40 years as an independent radio station. The Madison, Minnesota, station is unabashedly local, featuring high school sports, talk shows with local guests and community news.
Ibrahim Isaac maintained his innocence before being sentenced for helping Idris Abdillahi Haji-Mohamed, of Rochester, allegedly kill Abdi Mohamed Abdi.
Community and high school art events will be printed each Wednesday in this calendar up to two weeks in advance. The deadline is noon Friday. Items may be emailed to news@wctrib.com with “arts calendar item” in the subject line.
The weekly Around Our Region calendar of events is published Wednesdays. Submissions may be emailed to news@wctrib.com with “Around our Region” in the subject line at least a week in advance.
Art classes and meetings in the area
The Youth in Harmony festival, held by the West Central Connections Chorus, will take place Saturday and include a public concert.
Opportunities for artists in the west central Minnesota area
"Wait Until Dark" will be performed Thursday through Sunday this weekend and next at the Barn Theatre in Willmar. Showtimes are 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday with 2 p.m. matinees on Sunday.

Litchfield’s voters did approve a city sales tax Tuesday. The tax proceeds will be used to build a four-station multi-purpose field house and other amenities, Simenson said. The city portion of the project is expected to open in fall 2025.

The school district’s proposed aquatic center would have replaced an aging pool, and would have included locker rooms and offices. New ball fields and tennis courts were also part of the plan.

“While we’re disappointed that the bond referendum was not approved, we respect the voters’ decision,” Simenson said. “This plan was made up of two separate proposals, so the city’s portion of the facility will move forward as planned and the school district is reviewing its options moving forward ”

Paynesville school voters approved an operating levy of $460 per pupil for 10 years, and it would be added to property taxes in 2023. It will replace a previous levy of $39.25 per pupil which expires at the end of the year.

The levy was approved 1,459, or 51%, in favor to 1,402, or 49%, opposed.

Janell Bullard mug.jpg
Janell Bullard, Superintendent, Paynesville Area Schools

A second question would have allowed the operating levy to increase by the rate of inflation beginning with property taxes paid in 2024.

The inflation question failed 1,191, or 41.85%, in favor to 1,655, or 58.15%, opposed.

“The District is grateful to the support of our community and understands the current economic state,” said Superintendent Janell Bullard. “The District will continue to evaluate our efficiencies and demonstrate fiscal responsibility as we plan while keeping students, programming and opportunity as our top priority.”

ADVERTISEMENT

More from LINDA VANDERWERF
Falling enrollment and the end of pandemic relief funds have resulted in a need for budget cuts at Willmar Public Schools. A community task force will have a hand in making the recommendations.
Retiring president of the Willmar Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce Ken Warner says he has enjoyed his time working for the Willmar business community.
The daily average of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota jumped from a 378-case daily average to 760 cases a day in one week. Deaths have also increased to a daily average of 11 deaths a day.
Retiring president of the Willmar Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce Ken Warner says he has enjoyed his time working for the Willmar business community.
COVID-19 isn't gone in Minnesota, but hospitalizations and deaths are lower in the latest state update. About 120 fewer people were in hospitals this week than in the week before.
The state reported an average of 500 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 per day last week and an average of nine deaths per day. The case average was lower, but the average daily deaths was higher.
Breaking News
Prosecution errors freed Thomas Rhodes from prison and overturned his murder convictions Friday. A memo found in the prosecution's files last year contributed to his release.
People who have symptoms or have been exposed to someone with symptoms should get tested for COVID-19. Minnesota is ready to send four free tests for anyone who wants them.
Falling enrollment for Willmar Public Schools is likely to lead to budget cuts before the start of the 2023-24 school year. The School Board began the process with adopting a resolution Monday night.
A drop in enrollment is leading the Willmar School Board to ask its administrators to look at ways to reduce spending for the next school year.

Paul Carlson, Superintendent, Hancock Public Schools
Paul Carlson, Superintendent, Hancock Public Schools
Vanderwerf, Linda

In the Hancock ballot question, voters overwhelmingly approved a 10-year operating levy of $460, an increase from $449.03 per pupil. An inflation adjustment was included in the same question.

The levy was approved 374, or 72%, in favor and 145, or 28%, opposed.

"I am very pleased that the school board was able to find a referendum solution that meets the needs of the district and was supported by the community,” Superintendent Paul Carlson said. “The school board remains committed to finding ways to focus on the educational priorities of the district and to make the most of every dollar invested by residents in our school."

In 42 years in the newspaper industry, Linda Vanderwerf has worked at several daily newspapers in Minnesota, including the Mesabi Daily News, now called the Mesabi Tribune in Virginia. Previously, she worked for the Las Cruces Sun-News in New Mexico and the Rapid City Journal in the Black Hills of South Dakota. She has been a reporter at the West Central Tribune for nearly 27 years.

Vanderwerf can be reached at email: lvanderwerf@wctrib.com or phone 320-214-4340
What To Read Next
Khristian Apollo Kezena, 28, was sentenced to nearly three years in prison for first-degree impaired driving in Yellow Medicine County. This conviction marks his fourth within 10 years.
The longer Willmar Municipal Utilities can keep the wind turbines spinning, the better the cost-to-benefit ratio will be in the long run.
Area funerals scheduled through Feb. 7, 2023
Photos from a "Wait Until Dark" dress rehearsal at the Barn Theatre on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023.