The Fillmore Central School Board was briefed on the directions the school can take when the present referendum expires during its regular meeting on Tuesday, May 27. Making the recommendations for future financing was Patty Heminover, the vice president of Springsted Incorporated.

Heminover explained the process of renewal is a little more complicated this year due to new legislation. She recommended the board seek to renew the referendum a year prior to its expiration date in order to eliminate stress. In case of failure, the board would have one more try for renewal.

"If it fails on the first try, it does not mean the referendum would expire. There would be language on the ballot saying it is still in effect until the next year," Heminover stated. "There would not be a tax impact if you apply early."

Another reason to seek renewal a year early would be in case of an economic crisis or a major world catastrophe - such as an event like 9/11 or a huge drought.

Over the past two years, statewide, 102 referendums were held, 49 of which were renewals. During those two years, only one renewal failed to pass. Because of these statistics, Heminover noted the chances of renewal are very high. In addition, there will be less on the ballot this year.

"When there is a lot on the ballot like during a presidential election, there is so much commotion, everyone may come out to vote and not know much about the renewal," she related.

Recently, legislation was approved allowing schools to perform a board approved conversion of $300 per pupil unit from the referendum. Conversion would take place every five years.

There are three options for the board to take in renewing the referendum. The first is to pass a referendum for $592.15 per pupil unit. This would be effective for fiscal year 2017. The second option is to convert $300 without a new election. However, the school would not get as much revenue, which Heminover did not recommend. The third option was a combination of the previous two. The board could convert $300 and have an election for $292.15. This would give the board more authority down the road.

Adding more complication to the mix, "For districts receiving local optional revenue, the local optional allowance is subtracted off of the referendum allowance otherwise authorized by district voters. The bill also moves the subtraction to occur before new referendum authority is added through an election this fall," according to Minnesota Department of Education's Memorandum. Using the local optional revenue, the first and third options would reduce taxes for the voters.

If the board were to approve a resolution for the referendum election, it must notify the commissioner and county auditors. The ironclad last day for the board to adopt the resolution is Aug. 22. However, Heminover recommended the board not wait until the deadline to ensure no mistakes would show up in the ballot language.

If the board decides to move forward with the resolution, the next step is for the district attorney to draft the resolution for approval, which the board must grant before Aug. 22. In order to begin with enough cushion for the deadline, the board must move on it in July.