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Gruenhagen introduces bill to give school districts bonding levy flexibility

Thursday, January 22, 2015
ST. PAUL, MN—In an effort to give school districts greater flexibility in bonding levy decisions, Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen, R-Glencoe, has introduced House File 224 which would give school districts three options when making levy bonding requests.
 
Under current law, districts are only able to levy for bond funding on a per-acre basis for farms, resulting in a large amount of bonding levy funds being borne by farmers and farming/agriculture businesses with acres of land.
 
Gruenhagen's bill would provide two additional options for schools when bonding for new construction. One of these options would give schools the ability to levy on a residence plus one acre for each property in the school district, which is how traditional school operating levies are currently applied. The other option would give schools the ability to levy on half the value of the total acreage or commercial business.

"It's my goal to empower local school boards with tools and flexibility in working with their local communities when passing facility bonding referendums ," Gruenhagen said. "There's no need to pit our farmers and in-town residents against each other. If voters approve a higher levy request for bonding projects, this bill would allow them to share in that burden more equally."
 
Gruenhagen said his legislation was introduced in response to concerns from farmers and businesses who are impacted by bonding levy requests that are passed by residents. He said his legislation would give Greater Minnesota school districts more options, and may reduce the overwhelming opposition bonding levy requests typically face from farmers and owners of large parcels of land.
 
"This legislation would provide additional options to distribute bonding levy costs, and I think is a good compromise for residents in all parts of our Greater Minnesota cities and townships," Gruenhagen concluded. Representative Gruenhagen is also exploring legislation that would allow the state to pay a matching portion of facility bonding levies for rural school districts with small towns and primarily farming communities similar to how the state currently matches operating levy referendums.
 
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