Northlanders Speak out on Levy Proposal

By KBJR News 1

November 6, 2011 Updated Nov 6, 2011 at 11:38 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) - In these tough economic times, it's not easy to ask anyone for extra money through tax increases, regardless of how the city intends to utilize it.

"No, no no. I mean, enough's enough here. Taxes are getting out of control," said one Duluth resident.

With the operating levy on the November 8th ballot, which, if passed, would generate $2.9 million for the district each year by raising taxes from $5 to $10 a month for the average household, Northlanders are finding themselves torn.

"We need to keep our kids in school educated," said another Northlander.

It's an issue that has kept members and candidates of the Duluth School Board divided since the proposal was first introduced.
The candidates who would like to see voters pass a levy emphasize that money equals teachers, smaller class sizes and a higher quality of education.

"When you start out with children young, and you invest in them, they succeed," said district two candidate Judy Seliga-Punyko at a forum regarding the levy earlier September.

Board members and candidates against the levy proposal, however, worry that the problems ISD 709 face will not go away through an influx in the school district's allowance, and that it would only put Northlanders in a situation they simply can't afford.

District three candidate Jon Donahue claims the Duluth school district needs to think of other options before raising taxes. "We have to think smarter, we can't just throw money at the situation, I think we've done that enough."

For some on Tuesday, the decision will be easy.

"It's all about the kids, it ain't about us. Now it's about the future of America."

For others, however, the answer is anything but simple, and regardless of whether the levy passes or not, the outcome will only create more questions in regard to the future of the school district than it answers.

Said one Northlander, "We need to cut spending. We can't continue to burden the taxpayers and the property tax owners of the city year after year, time after time again with these increases."