The Milton School District will add an operational referendum to the November ballot, asking voters for permission to continue exceeding the state-imposed revenue limit by $2.5 million per year for another five years.
The school board vote to put the referendum on the ballot was unanimous, but the vote to allow the district budget to exceed the revenue limit for five years was not. Board member Brian Kvapil voted “no.”
A school district news release calls the proposed referendum a “renewal” referendum. Because it will be the same as the referendum that expires in June 2021, no year-over-year increase is expected in the tax levy specifically related to the operational referendum.
“As the board considered the needs of the district in light of the pandemic and the very difficult economy, we wanted to provide voters with a referendum solution that provides great value and allows us to continue the great tradition of the School District of Milton,” Board President Joe Martin said in the news release. “We believe that by simply renewing and not increasing the expiring 2016 referendum, we can do exactly that.”
Kvapil said he supported continuing the referendum another five years and understood it would neither increase nor decrease taxes. However, he said he didn’t agree with the November timing.
Many families have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic, he said, and he wanted more information on what the budget will look like this year. He acknowledged the timing wasn’t quite right to get the budget information.
Board member Dave Holterman said the district will not have a budget deficit.
Holterman said Milton is a relatively low-spending district compared to other districts, and its output—including ACT scores—is high.
“We don’t know the long-term impact of so many situations,” said board member Diamond McKenna, adding, “We don’t want to gamble that uncertainty with our students’ and our district’s needs.”
School board member Rick Mullen said district officials have tried to be good stewards with money. He said the district reduced costs by moving to a single health insurance provider and by making changes to its printer support and procurement. He said rental costs also were eliminated by moving 4K to district buildings.
If approved in November, the operational referendum would take effect in July 2021. If it fails, it can be brought back to voters in April.