Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Lois E. Johnson
Moose Lake Star Gazette 

Tax impact to be lower than estimated

Moose Lake School Board learns property taxes for new building to be 20% lower than estimated


courtesy Moose Lake Public Schools

The latest design for the footprint of the new Moose Lake Community Schools was presented at a special meeting of the school board December 1. The public is invited to provide input on the plans at a meeting December 9 at 6 p.m. in the school choir room.

Property taxes for the new school will be 20 percent lower than it had previously been estimated, the Moose Lake School Board learned at a special meeting on Monday, December 1.

Greg Crowe, the school district's financial adviser from Ehlers and Associates, spoke about two items that would result in the lower tax impact, a lower interest rate than had been estimated before the election on November 4 and a Premium Bid process, which means the school district will get paid more for the bonds to finance the project.

"The financial market has improved a lot," said Crowe. "The interest rates have come down. Before the election, we didn't think that the rate could stay low. But the rates came down. You (the school district) are always unique because of the state participation."

Crowe was referring to the state contributing $20 million to the school district in triple equalization aid because of damages resulting from the 2012 flood.

The Rushford-Peterson School District, which will also receive triple equalization aid, will also see a reduction in the cost of its school, Crowe explained.

The interest rate had previously been estimated at 4.1 percent. Now it is down to 3.27 percent, said Crowe.

"That's very good news," said Superintendent Robert Indihar.

The tax impact for a $150,000 residential homestead property would drop from the previous estimate of $337 per year to $301.

The tax impact on a $1 million farm would drop from $1,392 to $1,243, said Crowe.

More money will be available for construction because the allowance for discount bidding, a $173,500 item, was no longer needed, and from other reduced costs associated with the bonds.

The board passed a resolution to authorize going forward with the sale of bonds. Instead of $34.7 million in bonds, the school district will only need $33,025,000 in bonds, said Crowe.

Bids on the bonds will be called for in January, and the school board will meet on January 21, 2015, to approve the lowest bid. The estimated closing date for the bond sale is February 11, 2015, according to the pre-sale report distributed at the meeting.

Steve Sosalla and Katie Hildenbrand of ARI, the architectural firm, presented the latest design for the footprint of the school and various components on the school district's property along County Road 10.

The two had presented two plans for the board's input at a previous special meeting on November 24, and came back with the latest plan, after hearing input from board members.

When a property is going to be developed, the wetland delineation has to be updated, Sosalla told the board. According to the previous wetland delineation completed in October 2006, there are approximately five or six acres of wetlands.

The state requires wetlands that are eliminated in one area need to be created in another area. Socalla said at the December 1 meeting he had contacted the city of Moose Lake about the 13 acres in wetland credits it owns.

It was said at the previous meeting the city could not sell wetland credits for a commercial development but it may be possible to purchase them for the school.

However, delineation of the wetlands could not take place until May or June, when grasses grow. The delineation to determine where the wetlands are would delay the beginning of the construction of the school until at least July, Sosalla told the board at the November 24 meeting.

There would be wetlands on the site of the school building itself, he explained to the board at the December 1 meeting, but the other components of the school, such as the athletic fields and parking lot, would not infringe on the wetlands.

Supt. Indihar suggested there might be an option to build a pond in some of the wetlands that could be used by the science class to study ecosystems.

The board accepted the plan that was presented at the December 1 meeting.

The football field, surrounded by the track, will be on the east side of the school building, with the baseball fields arranged in a cloverleaf pattern located along County Road 10 south of the school.

All entrances to the school would be off of County Road 10. There are two entrances to the 350-400 space parking lot, located between the school and the baseball fields, an entrance for the bus drop-off for students, and a separate space for parents to drop off their children.

It was not determined yet where the bus garage will be located but it was noted, since the vans needed to transport handicapped students had to be close to the school, it has been thought to place the bus garage between the school and the school forest.

The previous plan for the school building, which had the main entrance to the building on the north side, facing an entrance from Highway 73, shows the school will now have the main entrance on the south side of the building facing County Road 10. It had been said that would be beneficial in keeping cold north winds from entering the building when the doors are opened.

The plan features fire access all around the building. The firefighters will know which alarm has been triggered and can enter the building in the closest location.

Hildenbrand also explained the classrooms will have natural light but not direct sunlight.

She added there will be a large quantity of green space and play space with the current plan.

Supt. Indihar said the way the school and grounds are laid would be more efficient for maintenance, such as plowing snow and mowing grass.

The next steps for the architects are to meet with the staff once again and ask for suggestions for the various spaces in the school. Proposals have been sent out for soil borings, said Sosalla.

The public will be able to provide input about the planning for the new school on Tuesday, December 9 at 6 p.m. in the choir room.

The board will consider action on the proposals and wetland delineation at the December 15 meeting, it was said.

School district residents will be able to attend the Truth in Taxation hearing at the December 15 meeting at 6:01 p.m. The board meeting will begin at 5 p.m.


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