The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Editorials

November 1, 2013

School bond deserves attention

Why it matters: Schools are key to a region's economic development and taxpayers make significant investments in them

(Continued)

Finally, East Senior High will be renovated to serve the growth in the high school population and make the campus a high school only. Some district wide programs may move there as well.

The impact of the bond issue will mean an increase in property taxes of about $134 per year on a home valued at $200,000. Commercial properties valued at $1 million would pay an additional $1,649 in taxes annually. Other property’s taxes from the referendum would be higher or lower based on their value.

Agriculture land of 160 acres with a $150,000 dwelling with a total value at $1.1 million would pay $452 more per year in property taxes.

The bond interest rate would be around 3 percent, still a relatively low rate in today’s economy. The debt service for the Mankato district is currently $716 per student, a little more than half the state average of $1,275.

All of this would accommodate the enrollment growth of 10 percent for a school district that covers 140 square miles, an eventual 8,300 students with three high schools, two middle schools and 11 elementary schools. There 1,092 full time employees at Mankato schools and the annual budget is $89 million.

It’s hard to imagine another solution to the enrollment growth that has shown to be very consistent in the Mankato area. Without approval of the bond, school officials say they might have to stagger school shifts, transfer students to other schools or make other significant changes.

The economic growth of the region as a whole has created a situation where the schools can accommodate growth at a lower cost than in the past because of lower interest rates and an expanded tax base. The cost to taxpayers in the current referendum is actually less than they paid in 1992 for the referendum less than half as big, according to Mankato Public Schools Director of Business Affairs Jerry Kolander.

There is more information including a property tax calculator at the Mankato schools website at www.isd77.org.

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