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District asks Barnum voters, 'Can you spare a buck?'

The Barnum School District is asking voters to approve a $1 per pupil unit (ppu) referendum for the next five years. If voters say "yes," the $833 generated each year by the $1 per pupil unit would automatically trigger a state-mandated "Equity A...

The Barnum School District is asking voters to approve a $1 per pupil unit (ppu) referendum for the next five years. If voters say "yes," the $833 generated each year by the $1 per pupil unit would automatically trigger a state-mandated "Equity Aid Revenue" of approximately $65,273.

Barnum Superintendent David Bottem explained that the district's strategy is to maximize what it can get from the state with the least impact to residents who might be struggling as the country climbs out of recession.

"Of that $883, only $447 is paid by district residents - mostly businesses and higher value properties - and $386 is paid by the state," Bottem said. "It's not a great amount, but it's good."

Of the Equity Aid Revenue, the state would pay $28,544 and district resident property taxpayers would pay $36,729, according to district literature.

Bottem explained that all school districts get some equity aid from the state.

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"If a [school] district makes the effort to hold a referendum, the state will increase the amount of equity revenue to a point," he said. "The higher operating referendum you have, the less [equity revenue] you get. Or if you don't have a referendum, you don't get as much as [you would] with a small one.

"We're trying to squeeze a little more out of the state."

No matter which way the vote goes, residents will see decreased property taxes on the school district portion of their tax bill. That's because the high school building - built in 1982 - is now paid off and that debt retired, said Bottem, noting that the school's levy is going down by 57 percent. The passing of the referendum would result in a slightly smaller tax decrease, he said.

According to district calculations, the tax impact (to be paid in 2013) for residents would break down as follows:

- A home valued at $100,000 is estimated to have the school portion of its property tax decrease by $147. If the referendum passes, the property tax decrease is estimated to be $131, which means that the tax reduction would be $16 less due to the referendum.

- A home valued at $150,000, is estimated to have the school portion of its property tax decrease by $258. If the referendum passes, the property tax decrease is estimated to be $233.

- A home valued at $200,000, is estimated to have the school portion of its property tax decrease by $369. If the referendum passes, the property tax decrease is estimated to be $336.

Under the terms of the board vote on the referendum, the money from the referendum and the equity aid would be used to help offset the cost of buses, property maintenance, property improvements, curriculum and technology. It would not be used for employee salaries or benefits.

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Voters denied a $400 ppu referendum in 2011after the district's $200 ppu referendum expired.

Related Topics: BARNUMEDUCATION
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