District Bond Referendum

Bond Referendum Information

Election Vote Totals: 117 Yes, 188 No

Combined Polling Place

Polling Place
Stearns Bank Building
105 Main Street, Suite 2
Upsala, MN 56384

Date and Time

Date and Time
Tuesday, May 11, 2021
Polls open from 4:00 to 8:00 pm
 

Absentee BallotAbsentee Ballot

Absentee ballot applications can be obtained by mail by applying online at the Secretary of State’s website or by contacting the District office at 320-573-2174. Absentee voting must begin 46 days before Election Day. For the May 11, 2021, special election, this deadline is Friday, March 26, 2021. Absentee ballots must be returned by Election Day.

 

School District Question 1
Approval of School District Bond Issue

Shall the school board of Independent School District No. 487 (Upsala Area Schools) be authorized to issue its general obligation school building bonds in an amount not to exceed $7,275,000 to provide funds for the acquisition and betterment of school sites and facilities, including the construction of secure entrances and security and safety improvements, the construction, remodeling and equipping of an early childhood classroom, elementary classrooms, a career technical education classroom, administrative offices and fitness classroom facilities, upgrades to accessibility, HVAC, electrical systems and roofing, the construction, remodeling and equipping of a bus/vehicle/equipment garage, and the construction and equipping of a grandstand, press box and concession areas?

Upsala School District will hold a special election on Tuesday, May 11, 2021 to seek voter approval for funds not to exceed $7,275,000. The funds would be used for the betterment of school sites and facilities, including the construction of secure entrances and security and safety improvements, the construction, remodeling and equipping of an early childhood classroom, elementary classrooms, a career technical education classroom, administrative offices and fitness classroom facilities, upgrades to accessibility, HVAC, electrical systems and roofing, the construction, remodeling and equipping of a bus/vehicle/equipment garage, and the construction and equipping of a grandstand, press box and concession areas.

Public Meetings
Public Meetings

Wed, March 24
6:00 pm
Virtual via YouTube

Thu, March 25
6:00 pm
in person (100 person capacity)*

Mon, March 29
6:00 pm
in person (100 person capacity)*

* Pre-registration is required

Attendees may pre-register for in-person meetings by contacting the District Office at 320-573-2174.

FAQs

School District Question 1
Approval of School District Bond Issue

Shall the school board of Independent School District No. 487 (Upsala Area Schools) be authorized to issue its general obligation school building bonds in an amount not to exceed $7,275,000 to provide funds for the acquisition and betterment of school sites and facilities, including the construction of secure entrances and security and safety improvements, the construction, remodeling and equipping of an early childhood classroom, elementary classrooms, a career technical education classroom, administrative offices and fitness classroom facilities, upgrades to accessibility, HVAC, electrical systems and roofing, the construction, remodeling and equipping of a bus/vehicle/equipment garage, and the construction and equipping of a grandstand, press box and concession areas?

In the fall of 2019, the District conducted a facility needs assessment that identified several deficiencies that exist in the District’s facilities. Based on this needs assessment, the School Board made the decision to pursue a Capital Improvement Project to address these deficiencies. After reviewing this list of deficiencies, the School Board identified a number of areas for facility improvement. These areas include:

  • Safety and Security Upgrades
    The safety and security of our students/staff is a critical aspect of our role as a school district. Our current facility lacks safe and secure entrances that will allow for district staff to supervise students/visitors as they transition to and from school. Upgrading our main entrances and administrative spaces will increase our supervisory capacity and ensure that we maintain a safe environment during the student day. In addition, there are ADA upgrades that will provide increased accessibility for students/staff/community members.
  • Deferred Facility Maintenance
    Since our 2003-04 renovation project, we have identified a number of maintenance issues throughout the facilities. HVAC upgrades, roof replacement, maintenance improvements to the bus garage and activity field buildings have been identified as major needs.
  • District Growth and Capacity
    Space needs were also identified as a deficiency in the needs assessment. Adequate space for early childhood/family education and preschool classrooms, addition of an equipment/maintenance building for district equipment and vehicles, additional space for increased storage capacity, bus garage improvements for fleet maintenance and community access to district fitness facilities.
  • Student Learning and Experiences
    Addition/upgrade to the career and technical education (CTE) space to meet the needs of the current/future CTE curriculum. Additional space to be added to more effectively utilize innovative equipment and technology in CTE classes. The elementary classrooms will also be upgraded to provide a more efficient learning environment. Upgrades will also be made to the activity field facilities which are outdated and out of compliance with current safety standards.

If this bond referendum does not pass, the District will have to look for other funding options to address the deficiencies identified in the needs assessment. One option would be to complete as many of the deferred maintenance options as possible by utilizing the District’s Long-Term Facility Maintenance (LTFM) revenue. LTFM revenue is provided to MN districts annually to help address facility maintenance issues and is very restrictive on how it can be used. Unfortunately, the annual LTFM revenues would not be sufficient to complete the number of maintenance projects necessary and/or would extend the timeline for completing these projects years in the future, possibly eliminating some of them altogether. Postponing the maintenance projects will only add to the list of facility deficiencies that will need to be addressed in the future.

LTFM revenue may not be used for any construction or remodeling projects. Additions and renovations involving new construction would not qualify for LTFM revenue use. This would mean that the District would have to utilize general operating funds to complete these projects, which may potentially have a negative impact on other areas of operation, including curriculum, instruction, technology, and instructional resources.

If the proposed Bond Referendum is successful, the District anticipates that we will receive aid from the State of MN to offset the costs to the local taxpayers. The aid will result from two state programs; Debt-Service Equalization and the School Building Bond Agricultural Credit (Ag2School Tax Credit).

Debt-Service Equalization Aid provides aid to certain MN school districts to help offset the cost of financing construction and renovation projects. Upsala Area Schools is one of 34 of the 329 MN school districts currently receiving debt-service equalization aid. The aid through this program is currently at 15.1% of the eligible debt service.

The Ag2School Tax Credit is a relatively new program initially approved by the State in 2017 and has been substantially increased since then. The Ag2School Tax Credit reduces the taxes on agricultural land and buildings for all school district bonds. The initial tax credit was set at 40% for taxes payable in 2018. For taxes payable in 2022, the credit was increased and will reduce the taxes for agricultural property owners by 60% of the taxes attributed to school district debt service (except for the house, garage, and one acre of land). The credit is deducted directly from the property taxes owed and applies to debt service levies for all types of existing and future bonds issued for school construction and renovation projects. The credit percentage will increase to 70% for taxes payable in 2023.

No. If approved, the proceeds from the bonds will be used for renovation/upgrades and deferred maintenance projects as identified in the needs assessment.

Information has been prepared by Ehlers to help residents better estimate the tax impact if the referendum passes. You can find that information as well as calculators to estimate your tax impact here: https://www.ehlers-inc.com/microsite/upsala2021/.

A ‘wrap-around’ debt schedule structure is used most often when the issuer of the bonds has existing debt. Using the wrap-around schedule will keep annual taxes lower while the District makes payments on the existing debt and moderates the tax impact in the future, which results in more manageable annual debt levies.

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