Operating levy for GFW School District on ballot

Updated: Aug. 10, 2020 at 12:31 PM CDT
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GIBBON, Minn. (KEYC) - Residents in the Gibbon Fairfax Winthrop School District have an additional decision to make on their ballot for Minnesota’s Primary Election Tuesday.

The GFW School District is asking for voters’ approval on an Operating Levy Referendum. This comes after two previous failed referendum votes in 2019 and 2017. The district is currently in statutory operating debt... and they want voters to understand there’s a big difference between a bond referendum and an operating levy.

“We are a very agricultural area and the impact of a bond referendum versus an operating levy which only has a tax impact on the house, garage and one acre of land is very different for a farmer so the education of our community on the difference is very important. The operating levy is about money for students, money for programs, money for staffing. The operating level, if it is successful will maintain quality programs,” says Jeff Horton, GFW School District Superintendent.

If it doesn’t pass, Horton says changes to the district could be drastic.

“If the operating levy does not pass it is possible that we’ll be looking at additional cuts to programs and staffing we also could be looking at dissolution if we’re not moving fast enough out of statutory operating debt and that would divide up the district and we would lose all of our schools and students would be split up to other school districts. It’s not something that the state does lightly and not something that communities like to go through so this operating levy will help take us out of statutory operating debt,” says Horton.

If approved, an owner of a $100,000 home in the district, would pay an additional cost of around $16 per month for property taxes. That would allow the district to collect around $1100 per student in additional revenue. The authorization would be effective in 2021 and would stay in effect for ten years.

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