Nancy Nilsen, Chair of the Duluth School Board rebuts my post which was sent to her by a member of Let Duluth Vote.
There is definitely some misinformation in this article. We have levied for all of it. There is not another levy for 54%. We levied for the whole amount last year and it is what is being seen in your current property tax.
The cost of the project is $257 million. With inflation over the 5 years that it will take to implement it, the cost is $293 million. Just like when you purchase a home and pay interest over the life of the loan, we have to do the same thing. If you take the interest into consideration, then you get to the $407 million. The reason it is lower that originally stated is because we got such a good bond rate when we sold the first set of bonds back in January. Interest rates are excellent right now, which is allowing us to save millions in interest expense.
With that said, what we need and have levied for is $125 million. The reason we don’t have to levy for the whole $293 million is because we will be selling all the property that we will no longer need and we will be taking the savings from building closures and applying that to the project. For example, we will not need as many overhead type staff such as principles, vice-principles, secretaries, ect. The money saved from not paying these people and from increased energy efficient systems will go to help pay off the project.
If we don’t decrease the number of buildings we don’t get these savings, so it is not like we have that money to use for programming now. Once the debt is paid off, those savings can go back into programming.
We have said all along that we are going to need an operating levy passed this November. The state does not give us enough money to operate our district. We could close every building in this district and not have enough money to operate. So there will be some difficult decisions coming up soon, but hopefully the citizen’s will allow us to pass the operating levy in November to help with the operating side.
I hope I have answered your questions. If not, please don’t hesitate to let me know. Thank you for your interest.