Referendum election set for November 7, 2023

Referendum election set for November 7, 2023
Posted on 08/18/2023
Vote Nov. 7. 2023

Dear Farmington Area Public Schools Parents and Families:

At the school board meeting on August 18, the Farmington Area School Board made an important decision that will significantly impact our students and the future of our district. I wanted to directly share the details of this decision with you.

The board voted to schedule a referendum election for November 7, 2023. The decision to schedule the referendum came after months of consideration and discussion. After the need to make budget reductions totaling $4.2 million for the 2023-2024 school year along with facing a projected deficit of approximately $3.5 million for the 2024-2025 school year, it was important to offer district residents the opportunity to consider increasing funding for the district rather than facing additional reductions in the next few years. The proposal on the ballot will ask voters to:

  • Revoke the district’s existing operating levy of $677 per pupil and replace it with a new levy in the following amounts per pupil for taxes payable in the years specified:
    • $1,239.92 per pupil for taxes payable in 2024 which will provide $9 million ($5 million from previous levy and $4 million from new levy) per year for the first three years of the new levy ; and
    • An additional $562.95 per pupil for taxes payable in 2027 which will provide an additional $4 million per year for the remaining seven years of the new levy.

If approved, the revenue from the new levy will help the district to:

  • Maintain excellent learning opportunities, programs and services for district students.
  • Offset a portion of the costs associated with new literacy and learner support initiatives required by the state.
  • Stabilize funding.

The district is choosing to bring the ballot question to the community at this time because of the following factors that will significantly reduce the tax impact on local property owners:

  1. Expiring debt - As a result of the district paying off two building bonds previously approved by voters, local property owners will see a reduction in property taxes of about $553 annually or $46 per month (on a home valued at $350,000). Specifically,  
    • In the 2024-2025 school year, the first building bond will be paid off, reducing the district’s overall debt and resulting in a decrease in local property taxes. For a home valued at $350,000, taxes will be reduced by about $134 annually or about $11 per month.
    • Similarly, the second building bond will be paid off in the 2027-2028 school year, which will cause another drop in property taxes for residents. For a home valued at $350,000, taxes will be further reduced by about $419 annually or about $35 per month. 
  2. Fiscal Stewardship - If the operating levy is approved in November, the school board will proactively act to allow taxpayers to experience the savings of the debt being paid off. To accomplish this, the district will only levy $9 million of the new operating levy for the first three years (i.e., 2024-2025, 2025-2026, and 2026-2027) and then levy the entire amount, about $13 million, for the remaining seven years. 

Because of this action, school property taxes for district residents with a home valued at $350,000 will increase by about $13.25 per month for the first four years and then be reduced by $10.50 for the remaining six years of the levy. Thanks to strong financial planning from the district, we are taking advantage of these upcoming changes to our tax base and finding ways to maximize the impact on our learners and schools while reducing the tax burden on our community. 

If the operating levy is not approved, the district likely will need to make additional budget reductions for the 2024-2025 school year and beyond. Budget adjustments would include discontinuing educational programs and reducing learning opportunities for students. As noted above, the district is currently projecting a budget deficit of about $3.5 million for 2024-2025. 

Throughout the next several weeks, we will share additional information about the referendum question. You can also go to our website for more information or email [email protected] with any questions. 

With the start of the school year in a little over two weeks, we are excited to welcome learners, parents and families back to our schools. We look forward to seeing you.

Jason Berg