Rochester School District goes after local Tea Party

Rochester homeowners could be in for a massive property tax increase.

According to “The Answer Man” at the Rochester Post Bulletin, the total estimated tax bill for a $150,000 home would go from $1,806 to $1,977 in 2016 based on the city approved and Olmstead county levies, plus the increase in the operating levy for the local school district, should voters approve the measure on November 3rd.  That’s a nearly 9% increase for homeowners and a local taxpayer group is working to get voters to say “no.” But, Rochester Public Schools hired a Minneapolis attorney at the taxpayers’ expense to fight back.

In July, the Rochester school board voted unanimously to include a ballot question which would raise an estimated $9.6 million in taxes each year over the next ten years, with automatic increases for inflation.  The district says the funding is needed to “maintain current class sizes and academic programs,” despite over a billion dollars in increased funding for K-12 in Minnesota from the state legislature since 2013.  The school board also voted to approve a $40.7 million maximum levy amount earlier this month, this is on top of the $9.6 million/10 year ballot question spending.

There is an “Alliance for a Strong Rochester Public Schools” group to push a “yes” vote which held a rally last night, but only 20 people showed up according to KTTC News.  In addition to this group, the school district has been putting out flyers essentially supporting the referendum, although they can’t advocate a “yes” vote per state law.

The Rochester Tea Party Patriots has been advocating a “no” vote” on the tax increase and last week a Minneapolis attorney for Rochester Public Schools sent a “cease and desist” letter to the organization according the Rochester Post Bulletin.  The Tea Party has a flyer closely resembling the referendum mailer from the school district. The two versions of the flyer can be seen at the Post Bulletin website.

The Post Bulletin reports that the Tea Party did take out a photo montage and made minor font changes, but that the organization maintains that it “will not back down” nor “will not be intimidated by any government or non-government body trying to silence citizens” according to an email sent late last week.

Take a look at flyer below:

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