Dist. 88 tax abatement process started

NEW ULM – The District 88 Board of Education on Thursday approved a resolution to start a “tax abatement” bonding process to fund school parking lot improvements.

The project concerns parking lots at the main (high school/Jefferson Elementary School) campus and at Washington Elementary School.

The resolution allows the district to begin a process that would result in the issuance of up to $680,000 in 15-year bonds.

The district would levy the annual debt service through “tax abatement.”

“Tax abatement” is an economic development tool, not an actual abatement, or non-payment, of taxes. It allows the levy of taxes for development purposes. Taxes are captured from properties that benefit from the tax abatement project.

The resolution approved Thursday is the first step in the tax abatement bonding process. Next, the district needs to submit “a letter of consultation” to the Minnesota Department of Education explaining the project; obtain a bond rating from a rating agency; publish a request for bids to determine the actual cost of the project; and hold a public hearing. (The hearing is at 7 p.m. May 29 at the District Administrative Center.) After these steps, the board will decide whether to move on with the project.

The parking lot has been overlaid and seal-coated half a dozen times and is in very poor condition, according to Facilities Director Scott Hogen.

If the project proceeds, the existing blacktop would be taken out, ground and as much as possible re-used, broken curbs repaired, drainage system issues fixed, and handicapped accessibility ramps added, according to Hogen.

The process involves a tax increase for properties in the district (see table). Sharon Gieseke, who has in the past objected to new taxes, was the sole board member to vote against it, although she did not specifically re-state her reasons during the vote.

Approval of part-time teaching arrangement

The board approved a part-time teaching arrangement with long-term family and consumer science teacher Jill Curry, under a specific Teacher Retirement Association (TRA) Part-Time Teacher Program.

This program enables a qualifying teacher to work part-time and receive service credit as if it were full time. The teacher must meet eligibility criteria: he or she must have at least three full years of allowable service, and be compensated at the rate of 30-80 percent full-time equivalent.

The district financial responsibility includes a percentage of the salary and benefits. In Curry’s case, it will be at 50 percent.

Curry will work full-time for the first semester. Once the second semester begins, she will not work and pay both the individual and the district TRA contributions. She will retire at the end of the 2013-14 school year.

Superintendent Harold Remme said administrators considered how Curry’s position would be staffed during the second semester, and “we believe we can make the accommodations for it.”

The board granted unanimous approval to the proposal.

Activities Director’s

Contract

The board approved a new contract with Activities Director Chad Eischens for next year.

The main changes are a 1 percent salary increase, health insurance premium adjustments in line with the those made for most other district employees, and increasing his work days from 190 to 220.

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