To the editor,
I have served on the Mora School Board for 11 years and like my fellow colleagues, I’m deeply committed to doing what’s best for our local schools, while ensuring that we use public resources responsibly.
After engaging a wide range of Mora residents to study the challenges of our aging school buildings and the best options to address them, this process led to a sensible plan to address these challenges with new construction of modern educational spaces that are healthy, safe, handicapped accessible and energy efficient. Voters will consider this plan in two questions in this fall’s referendum.
The plan for new construction of a facility for grades 7-12 leverages more state aid than any other option to address our facility needs. If voters approve Question 1 – a new wing for grades 7 and 8 – state aid will cover $5.4 million of the $19.8 million project. If voters approve both Questions 1 and 2 – which would allow us to build a new wing to serve 7-12 grades at the Trailview campus –state aid will offset $26.9 million of the $59.2 million project, or 45% of the total cost. No other options bring in that much state support.
It’s worth mentioning that the state’s Ag2School tax credit now provides welcome relief by reducing the property tax impact of school bond levies for owners of farm land. Enacted in 2017 by the Minnesota Legislature, Ag2School tax credits cover all agricultural property, except the house, garage and one acre of surrounding homestead. In 2020, the tax credit is 50% and is scheduled to increase to 70% by 2023. The credit is automatically applied, meaning no action by the land owner is required to benefit from the Ag2School tax credit.
It is also important to keep in mind that there is a substantial cost to kicking the can down the road. The cost of building a new Mora High School has risen by $15 million since 2012. Assuming construction costs continue climbing at that rate, the same project will cost over $75 million in 2025 – that’s $16.6 million more than it costs today.
Ultimately, voters will decide whether it is the right time to make these investments. I encourage all Mora residents to visit the referendum information website: www.MustangsUnited.com. There, you will find more information about the challenges of our building, the plan and the cost. You will also find a tax calculator, so you can determine how the tax changes will affect you.
Early voting is already underway, and residents can cast their absentee ballots at the Mora School District office weekdays between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. On Election Day (Nov. 5), the polling location is at Mora City Hall from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m.
We appreciate your consideration and encourage you to cast your vote.
Mora School Board Vice Chair and Treasurer