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

By Lois E Johnson
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

'This changes everything'

Moose Lake School Board considers larger bond — for half the tax impact


September 20, 2018

The Moose Lake School District can get 60 percent off on the bond for the athletic complex improvements, Jodie Zesbaugh of Ehlers told the Moose Lake School Board at its monthly meeting on Monday, September 17.

“With Super Equalization Aid, you qualify to get up to $7,875,000,” she told the board. “It will be a 20-year bond, which is required. It is a wrap-around structure bond.”

Zesbaugh explained that the school board had been considering an Abatement Bond.

An Abatement Bond would provide the school district with $500,000 but it could only be used for constructing parking lots, she explained.

The tax increase for an Abatement Bond on a $100,000 property would be $19 a year. Voter approval is not needed.

The tax increase on a Super Equalization Bond in the amount of $7,875,000 would be the same, $19 a year. Voter approval is needed.

The tax increase on $5,000,000 Super Equalization Bond would be $8 a year. Voter approval is needed.

“This changed the game,” said Superintendent Robert Indihar. “While the existing debt is still outstanding, it will kick it up to $7,7875,000. If the tax base grows, we would qualify for a higher level.”

“For $8 a year you get 10 times the project for less than half of the tax impact,” added Board Member Jamie Jungers. “It’s unbelievable. This changes everything. The kids are going to love this.”

Jeff Schultz of ICS, the company hired by the school board to assist with completing the athletic field complex, said, “This is not too good to be true.”

He presented list of projects that the initial $34.7 million referendum did not cover: additional parking, Early Childhood playground, concession building at the athletic complex, baseball bleachers, track grandstand, cloverleaf fields, and adjacent housing/commercial developments with the city.

But the first of the planning services provided by ICS was to get input from the members of the school board, students, staff and the community. Those sessions would take place in the next three months, September, October and November.

With that input, the scope of the project would be laid out and a budget created.

The project will then be brought back to the people for feedback.

Potential partnerships and funding exploration would take place from December through March, and then the school board will finalize the plan. The plan would be submitted to the Minnesota Department of Education in March for a 60-day review. A possible election date would be later in May 2019.

If the referendum passes, project design and bidding would follow, with the parking lot being the top priority. Completion of the remainder of the athletic complex would be in September 2020.

“I think that you have a great story to tell,” Schultz told the board. “The people are proud of their new building. We will be doing listening sessions and get the priorities listed. Everything we hear comes back to the board, whether it’s good, bad or ugly. The students are the best, in these cases. They give it to you straight up. They don’t have any political filters.”

Indihar had other good news for the board.

“The sale of the Family Center closes on Oct. 1,” he told the board.

But he also had news that wasn’t as good.

“The cell tower on one acre of land by the old school isn’t going to happen,” he said. “We have to decide what we are going to do with that land. But we have some time to think about it yet.”

Indihar also reported that work had begun on a cross country track but the Skidsteer broke down. The work will continue as soon as repairs are completed. The track will require ongoing maintenance.

The school board set the preliminary levy at the max. It can be changed at the December meeting to an actual amount for the levy, it was said.

The contract with ICS was approved, pending positive legal review.

The next monthly meeting of the board was set for Oct. 15 at 6 p.m.


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