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Levy to be decided April 25

The levy for the November 2008 ballot is expected to be set at a school board meeting this Friday, April 25, at the Perham Public Library.

The Perham-Dent school board has concluded that a question to raise taxes to increase operating revenue.

"It (a tax increase) can be tough to swallow, with fuel and food prices up," said School Board Chairman Ron Berns in an interview. "But I think the community is behind us, the groups I've talked to support us - - whatever it takes."

The total dollar amount for the levy, the per-pupil revenue it would generate and a strategy for campaigning for "yes" votes were discussed at length April 16, during a Perham-Dent school board meeting in Dent.

Also discussed was impact on taxpayers. Illustrations of the various impacts on homes will be presented in detail at the April 25 meeting.

Based on preliminary illustrations, a levy of about $700 per student would increase taxes on a $100,000 home by $119 a year. For a $500,000 home, the increase would be about $600 a year.

But the figure is likely to be higher, as the board has been discussing a levy of about $900 per student.

"The $900 per pupil would be adequate funding to maintain the best outstate school in Minnesota--for the next five to seven years," said Superintendent Tamara Uselman.

Most board members appeared to agree on a levy increase equivalent to about $900 per student--which would generate more than $1 million a year in additional operating revenue.

"In all my years on the school board, I've never seen us spend money foolishly," said nine-year boardmember Arnie Thompson, who has long favored going to the voters for more money. "I think we can show the voters that we're not going to blow the money if they give it to us. We've been cutting a half million a year almost every year I've been on the board."

Board members expressed the need to move as quickly as possible with the public campaign in order to build support for the levy referendum.

"We can't wait too long--November will be here before we know it," said board member Dan Nodsle.