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Le Sueur-Henderson bond referendum starts early voting session

If the referendum is approved, property taxes will increase to pay off costs starting in 2023.
Le Sueur-Henderson Public Schools will start early voting on its $51 million bond referendum. This is a second attempt for the district.
Published: Jun. 23, 2022 at 5:33 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 23, 2022 at 7:10 PM CDT
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LE SUEUR, Minn. (KEYC) - Le Sueur-Henderson Public Schools will start early voting on its $51 million bond referendum. This is a second attempt for the district.

On Wednesday, Le Sueur-Henderson Public Schools’ held its final community meeting about its upcoming bond referendum.

The effort comes forward as the current Park elementary school, which has stood for 92 years, deteriorates.

“The boilers are about 60 to 70 years old. We struggle to get parts because parts have to be custom-made. And the question I ask people when you look at a building like this, 92 years old, how many buildings in the state of Minnesota that are 92 years old are still being used for the original purpose they were built for? And if you look at most of them, they’re not,” superintendent Jim Wagner said.

The referendum will be presented to voters in three questions. Question one asks for $39.9 million to build a new elementary school on the same campus as the middle and high school. If approved, Park elementary would be demolished.

“There’s been analyzes and evaluations done that show that the cost to update Park to get it to where we need it to be is more than what it would be to just build a new school,” Vote-Yes committee member Erin Timmers said.

Question one must be approved for questions two and three to move forward. Questions two and three apply additional funding to school district infrastructure and maintenance.

District officials say they recognize the issue of the cost of construction.

“If you look at the 30-year history, construction costs haven’t gone backward, and even during recessions, they’ve gone up. And so that’s the part where it’s hard: when is a good time to do it? And there really is no good time other than we need to provide what’s best for our students and to be modern with what they need for their needs right now,” Wagner said.

If the referendum is approved, property tax will increase to pay off costs starting in 2023, and the debt service tax levies are expected to last for 20 years.

If all three questions are approved, residents with a market home value of $150,000 will see a tax impact of $318 per year. The owner of a $250,000 home can expect a $594 impact on their annual property taxes. If only the first question is approved, then homes at the same values can expect a $221 and $412 tax impact, respectively.

“A lot of our funding comes from the property tax base that you have within the school district and then the rest of the revenue that a district gets is from our student base,” Wagner said.

If the referendum doesn’t pass, then Park Elementary will remain a functioning school. If it passes, then the new building would open in fall 2024.

“I think a new school is really needed for both communities. I went to Park elementary, I enjoyed my time there, but I can see that its past its prime- it’s in need of some significant help,” Timmers said.

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