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State OKs referendum with more than $10M in state aid

State OKs referendum with more than $10M in state aid

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The proposal’s total cost is estimated at $42,915,930. A lot of factors go into that figure, including forecasted construction costs and interest rates. Another set of estimates are used to project the impact on taxpayers, such as property assessments and bond payoff schedules.

The school district uses an assessed value of $522,942 (the average in Ramsey) to estimate tax impact. If voters approve the Dec. 11 referendum to improve facilities, it would cost that homeowner an estimated $288 per year after the state’s contribution of $10.4 million. But that’s only until 2024, when Ramsey taxpayers finish making payments on their investment to build Dater Elementary School. After that milestone, the tax impact of this new bond proposal would drop to about $33 a year.

State oversight doesn’t end with this verification of project plans and estimated costs, and that process has other benefits for residents. 

  • Very purposely, cost estimates have some built-in cushioning. When voters approve a bond proposal, the school district is required to provide all the proposed improvements. State oversight doesn’t allow rosy but unrealistic estimates to ensure that voters get everything they supported.
  • Any cost savings – windows projects with a lower price than anticipated, for instance – cannot be funneled to purchases that were not part of the referendum. If it was detailed in the proposal it must be purchased. If it wasn’t detailed in the proposal, it cannot be purchased.
  • All contracts and costs are submitted to a state office for review by employees who are knowledgeable about and dedicated to this kind of work. The resulting pile of documentation provides further reassurance to residents.

Plans to expand to All-Day Kindergarten is a great example of the way a bond referendum works. The Dec. 11 proposal includes space for that expansion, but secondary approval by voters in November 2019 would provide operating costs. Bond funds earmarked for All-Day Kindergarten could not be spent on anything else, and the district will not move forward with construction without getting voter approval for the operating funds in November 2019. 

The next step is up to the voters of Ramsey, who will make their voices heard on Tuesday, Dec. 11. Don’t go into the voting booth unprepared: We have posted information throughout the process on our website. That’s the best place to get the most current information about plans to improve security, renovate instructional spaces, modernize athletic facilities, add air conditioning to some areas, make room to accommodate our very popular performing arts programs, increase efficiency of mechanical systems, and build classrooms for an All-Day Kindergarten expansion that requires a second voter approval in November 2019.

Yes, we can get all of that with a $10.4 million contribution from the state and an average property tax cost of about $33 a year after the 2024 payoff of the bond that built Dater School.