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Perham-Dentm school levy set for November election

By Louis Hoglund

School administrators shaved their pencils and crunched the numbers, and arrived at a conservative levy increase that should serve the school well for five years.

Now, its the voters' turn.

A question, asking Perham-Dent taxpayers to approve a levy increase equivalent to $695 per student, will appear on the November general election ballot.

The tax increase will generate about $950,000 in additional revenue annually, starting in school year 2009-2010.

Nobody likes a tax increase, but district residents can take some comfort knowing that administrators and board members pared it back about as far as they could.

Earlier discussions included suggestions of $1,000 per student or more--with total additional taxes of well over $1 million.

"(Business manager) Kristi Werner went through all the numbers again, and determined that $695 per student would support the school for the next five years," said School Board Chairman Ron Berns.

School officials are confident that this modest boost in operating revenue will maintain academic quality.

"This gives us a five-year window to work on increasing enrollment, and seeing where the legislature goes with state funding," added Berns.

The mathematics have been calculated very conservatively.

Projections were based on only a one percent increase in state funding for four of the five years; and inflation rates of 2.7 percent. The calculations are also based on the loss of 25 students; and that the Dent school will become a diversified educational facility--but k-4 elementary will be eliminated by 2009-10.

In terms of impact to taxpayers, a $100,000 home will experience a tax increase of $119 annually. For a $150,000 home, the increase will be $179. For a $225,000 home, taxes will increase by $268.

On the high end, homes, apartments and commercial properties valalued at $1 million would face a tax hike of $1,195. For $2 million properties, the increase is $2,391 annually.

Seasonal, non-homestead properties can not be taxed for an increase operating levy; nor can agricultural land.