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Work begins on group to move school referendum forward

WORTHINGTON — A small group of interested parents, community members and District 518 employees showed up at the Worthington High School cafeteria Monday evening with the goal of developing a support group for this fall’s upcoming operating referendum.

This referendum — the only school-related question on the ballot — will replace, in part, the school district’s prior revenue authorization, which is scheduled to expire after taxes payable in 2014.

Passage of the referendum would result in an increase in property taxes — a major concern for community members last fall. The impact, however, may be small, as a handout available at the meeting indicates.

“For agricultural property (both homestead and non-homestead), the taxes for the proposed referendum will be based on the value of the house, garage and surrounding one acre of land only,” the handout reads, in part. “There will be no referendum taxes paid on the value of other agricultural lands and buildings.”

There will be a calculator available on the school district’s website to calculate home cost and tax increase. For a $100,000 home, for example, the increase will be $13.40 annually.

Another difference from last fall’s election is that there will be no question on the ballot concerning building or remodeling any portion of District 518 buildings. Rather, with the referendum, the priority is on maintaining the high level of education currently available in the school district and avoiding significant budget cuts, which would likely need to be addressed should the referendum fail.

“Our focus is on the financial support for classrooms and general costs for our schools to function,” said Linden Olson, school board chair.

In light of that priority, the district and those in attendance Monday are asking that anyone interested in the passage of this referendum come to the next scheduled meeting, set for 5:30p.m. July 22 in the WHS cafeteria. The goal of that meeting will be to set committees and continue the process of getting people on board in support of the referendum.