The tax bill passed by the Minnesota Senate earlier this week could have a very big local impact.
Independent School District 834 Board members revealed at their April 25 learning session that language in the Senate’s tax bill would freeze levy levels and keep them at their current level for 2015. This would have prevented the school district from raising their levy for the November election which they voted to do at their April 11 meeting.
Board chairwoman Kathy Buchholz encouraged board members to write senators over the weekend, adding that she and Board member Natalie Fedie would work with Sen. Karin Housley to see if an amendment could be made allowing the approved district levy to continue.
On Monday, Housley offered an amendment to the tax bill exempting schools that had adopted a resolution to conduct a 2013 referendum before April 22, 2013.
“It (the amendment) passed!! The only amendment to the tax bill that passed.” Housley said via text message Monday. “It still has to go to conference committee with the House but this gives the levy life. All the work that the school district, school board, and over 200 community members have done will not be for naught. This gives the people of Stillwater local control, to decide on where their tax dollars should be spent — which is the way it should be.”
The Senate tax bill with Housley’s amendment heads to a conference committee, where senators and representatives will try to iron out differences in their respective tax bills and send a final tax bill to Gov. Mark Dayton for his signature.
Buchholz said the school board would watch what happens in the conference committee, but were grateful for what Housley did for them.
“I think Sen. Karin Housley did a really great job representing her constituents and understanding all the work that went into the strategic plan and articulating our situation to the Senate. I was told the amendment passed unanimously, so I think she just did a wonderful job.” Buchholz said.
Had Housley’s amendment not passed, the effect of the Senate bill’s levy language would have been immediate.
“Because the school board adopted a resolution prior to seeing what was in the tax bill, they are excluded from it, ‘The levy freeze’ was to be immediate. There are other suburban schools that would’ve been affected also,” Housley said. “It’s very important to me to keep things as local as possible. This was the state coming in and thinking yet again they know what’s best for our local schools. Who knows better than the people right here in Stillwater? With this amendment they now can have local control back.”