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Posted on Jan 15, 2015

Four-year M&O school levy up before voters

Ballots went out last week for the upcoming Feb. 10 special election.

Up before Quincy School District voters is a proposed four-year maintenance and operations levy that would generate about $7.7 million a year for the Quincy School District.

Special election ballots were mailed to registered voters on Jan. 23. They must be postmarked by Feb. 10 to be counted in the election.

Quincy Levy Committee chairman Ed Field said the volunteer group was up and running, placing levy support signs around town. The committee of about 20 people hopes to raise about $3,500 for its campaign efforts, Field said.

The levy committee has not scheduled a community forum to educate the public about the proposed levy; however, QSD Superintendent John Boyd is visiting any club or organization that invites him to speak about the levy, Field said.

The community is coming off of a failed M&O levy attempt in November, when the Quincy Valley Medical Center asked voters to approve a $2.2 million levy to help pay down its debt to Grant County. Only 49 percent of voters supported the hospital levy, which needed at least 60 percent support to pass.

Because the school district’s proposed M&O levy is a replacement levy, it needs more than 50 percent approval to pass.

Field said the committee is “mindful” of the hospital’s failed levy; however, the hospital was facing hurdles much different than the school district. The hospital was asking voters to help pay down its debt while the school district is asking the community to renew its levy, he said.

“Quincy has been a real supportive community for schools,” said Field, who graduated from Quincy High School in 1966 and now has grandchildren attending Quincy schools.

The current M&O levy expires at the end of 2015. The school district operates on a $30.1 million budget. The levy accounts for about 23 percent of that budget.

The proposed levy is lower than the current M&O levy. The school district is proposing a tax levy of $3.05 per $1,000 of assessed property value. So the owner of a $150,000 home would pay $457 a year.

The current tax levy rate is $3.32 per $1,000 assessed property value.

The replacement levy rate, if passed, is estimated to decrease over three years. It would be about $2.91 in 2017, $2.77 in 2018 and $2.65 in 2019.

However, because of rising assessed property values in Quincy, the proposed levy would collect more money from year to year, collecting about $8.4 million in 2019.

Over the years, school districts across the state have grown increasingly dependent on replacement M&O levies. Local school levies are the means used by public school districts around the state to pay for programs and activities that are not fully funded by state, federal or local resources. If district voters approve the levy, they agree to provide school funding through a portion of their property tax.

The levy funds go toward basic operating costs, including textbooks, classroom supplies, technology, utilities, insurance and maintenance, as well as underfunded programs, such as special education, enrichment and  transportation. They also help cover the costs of co-curricular programs, student activities and athletics.

 

— By Jill FitzSimmons, editor@qvpr.com

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