Minnetonka schools seek higher taxes, 1/3 of students open-enroll

Via Facebook Vote Yes for Tonka page
Via Facebook

Minnetonka schools needs more money from property tax payers, but 1/3 of the kids who go to school in the district have parents who don’t pay property taxes in the school district.

There will be two ballot questions on November 3rd:

Question 1: Asks voters to renew and increase the District’s annual operating levy by $340 per pupil, from $1,250 to $1,590 per pupil, for taxes payable in 2017 and 2018 and then increase to $2,046 per pupil for taxes payable in 2019 with built-in inflationary increases from 2020-2025.

Question 1 is a renewal of a 2007 levy which expires in 2017.  That levy produced $13.7 million annually, the new levy will generate an estimated $14.6 million in 2017 and $15.8 million by 2021 and is already built into the June 2015 district budget.  The total annual operating budget for the district is $103.6 million for 2015-2016.

Question 2: Asks voters to replace the existing district technology levy with a new 10 year levy, at the current rate of 6.569%, to generate a total of $54 million, or about $5 million annually.

The “VOTE YES TONKA” team has a website, a Facebook page, a Twitter account and, like most local tax hike groups, is a full-blown political campaign….and it’s all “for the children.”  Smiling faces of happy kids are shown in every ad for the group. Mailers have already hit mailboxes (see right) and soon resident doors will be knocked and yard signs will be out.  There’s no organized opposition representing taxpayers in the highly-taxed western suburb.Mtka1

The school district is, of course, promoting the levy vote on its website. They use the tried and true tactic of putting dollar amounts in the form of “$15.24 per month” increments (for median value homeowners,) vs. the $200+ million tax hike that replacing the expiring referenda represents.

According to the district website, Minnetonka has 3,000 open-enrolled students out of a total of 9,941 which means that 30% of the kids who attend Minnetonka schools don’t have parents who pay Minnetonka district 276 property taxes.  This is a huge jump from 2011, when the number of open-enrolled students was 1,902, or 21% of the 9,001 students enrolled.

There is also a school board election on November 3rd, but with only four candidates filing to fill four open seats, turnout could be low.  Alpha News will continue to monitor the progress of the ballot questions in Minnetonka.



Contributor Alpha News