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Why I oppose an additional operating levy

  • The justification for passing an additional operating levy must be truthful and based on sound reasoning.  The Fact vs. Fantasy page on this web site shows that proponents of a higher levy haven't done their homework, school expenditures have not decreased, and that Duluth already pays among the highest taxes in the state to support their schools.
  • Why should the schools be asking for more money when we have less money to give? The income of most of us Duluthians has not increased, in fact, our disposable income has fallen the last few years. Why should they even be asking us when they have not tightened their belts at all, and keep spending money like it grows on trees?
  • The state has permanently increased the per student funding by $50 this year and another $50 next year.  This will bring in another $1 million in revenue to the school per year.  This is equivalent to raising the operating levy by $100.  Another levy on top of this is asking too much from the taxpayers.
  • So far in this election, the main proponents of an increased operating levy is a group of teachers and the administration.   They have a conflict of interest.    If the  operating levy passes, much of that money is  equal  to the increased salaries and benefits for teachers and staff.   Salaries have already been locked into 2% effective raises for the next two years, and they  contribute  nearly nothing for their health benefits (many make money off their benefits!).  These teachers are  scolding the citizens of Duluth to shell out more taxes—but until they agree to a pay freeze, and start contributing something to their health benefits, it is very disingenuine for them to ask for everyone else in town to give them more money.  Teacher salaries in Duluth are already among the highest in the state. So, little additional money from this operating levy will be available for education.

    See: http://education.state.mn.us/mdeprod/idcplg?IdcService=GET_FILE&dDocName=019790&RevisionSelectionMethod=latestReleased&Rendition=primary
  • The increased operating levy, if  it passes, is nearly equal to the $15 million increases in the Red Plan which has already been passed by the school board, but not yet approved by the Minn. Dept. of Education.    If the board gets their way, they want to increase the Red Plan by yet another $19 million.  Together , these two Red Plan building increases are greater than the entire addition of the operating levy, if it would pass.
  • Any increase in the operating levy will go to the general fund.  But contrary to statements by the school administration, general funds are being transferred to the Red Plan.  This year that transfer is expected to be about $4.5 million and will increase yearly up to about $9 million.   So operating levies will be going for the increased scope of the Red Plan.   This, together with the salary increases, are more than the tax increases from the operating levy if it would pass.  Leaving little, if any, for education.
  • Teachers are using the internal school email system to raise funds and promote this referendum.  Despite this being contrary to law,  the administration has done nothing to stop this.
  • Duluthians are already paying for the $297 million (or is it $312 million—no one even knows the total anymore) long range facilities plan (Red Plan).  On Oct. 6, the board passed their intent to raise property taxes by another 5% (no reason given).  The school board passed a $15.4 million Red Plan increase in July, and that is yet to be levied to the taxpayer.  The board has expressed desires to increase the Red Plan by another $19 million after the election.  The operating levy referendum is another  $3 to $6 million per year. There has to be a limit to how many taxes citizens are expected to pay.  
  • Duluthians voted for an operating levy in 2008 (payable in 2009) and that is still in effect.  In 2008, citizens rejected an increase in the levy.  Like spoiled children,  the school can’t take  "NO" for an answer, but keeps coming back to raid the cookie jar.
  • The election is a gimmick election with the ballot designed by a consultant to make it look like the lowest amount out of three is a reasonable vote.   If you vote yes for just the first question, that will increase your voter approved tax levy by a walloping 78%!
  • Citizens aren’t given a chance  to reduce the levy, but only to vote for more taxes--more taxes--or more taxes.
  • Operating levies are, by regulation and court rulings, only to augment revenue coming from the state, not to replace it. Operating levies are a small part of the total revenues for the school and even increasing it by voting “yes” will not eliminate the “projected deficit.” History has shown that no matter how much the school gets, they will still project a deficit.

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