Medina gets preview of Wayzata Schools referendum

Two questions will be on Feb. 25 ballot

The Medina City Council, Tuesday, Jan. 21, learned about a side effect of the recent bumper crop of housing development approvals in Medina, Plymouth, Maple Grove and Corcoran — a Feb. 25 bond referendum for the Wayzata School District.

Finance Director Jim Westrum, of Wayzata Public Schools, came before the Medina council to explain the referendum, which will affect voters in the northeast corner of Medina. Many of them recently moved into the newly constructed The Enclave on Hunter Drive and The Enclave at Brockton Lane. More young families will be moving into housing developments that are in the works, such as The Woods of Medina and a large development by D.R. Hudson Inc., which currently is moving through Medina’s approval process. The new, large housing developments are and will be located near Highway 55.

Wayzata Public Schools will have two referendum questions on the Feb. 25 ballot. If approved, question No. 1 would have a $123 annual tax impact on the owner of a home valued at $333,900, the average home value in the Wayzata School District. This question will ask voters to approve $109.65 million in bond funding. Of this amount, $69.7 million would be used to expand Wayzata High School, $26.1 million would be earmarked for an eighth elementary school and $13.8 million would be used to improve infrastructure districtwide.

Question No. 2 on the ballot would have no tax impact on homeowners, if it is approved. This question asks voters to renew the current technology levy.

Westrum’s video presentation described population increases that will affect Wayzata Public Schools. Over the past four years, 1,200 homes have been built in the district, which serves seven cities. The district expects another 1,600 homes to be built in the next four years. Projections for Wayzata High School indicated that the student body is likely to grow by as many as 900 students in the next 10 years. WHS enrollment for 2012-2013 was 3,215. This figure is expected to grow to 4,069 in 10 years.

As Wayzata Public Schools purchases more bonds, district residents will get tax help from the district’s AAA bond rating which will keep down interest costs.

Westrum commented, “State funding of all-day kindergarten was a game changer.” Wayzata Schools had 36 sections of kindergarten in 18 classrooms. Now the district will need 36 classrooms for the 36 sections.

The district already has purchased 36 acres of the Elm Creek Golf Course for the high school expansion, he said. Now the district is seeking 20 to 30 acres for the new elementary school. The site is likely to be north of Highway 55 close to Wayzata High School.

Westrum said he had noticed the new housing developments that are going up in Medina.

OTHER CITY COUNCIL BUSINESS

City Administrator Scott Johnson asked the City Council for input on a second draft of an upcoming survey of residents. The survey will be used to gauge interest of residents in commuter bus service along the Highway 55 corridor. This second draft of survey questions mentions a March 15 deadline for mailing responses to Medina City Hall, 2052 County Road 24, Medina, MN 55340 or emailing them to Johnson at scott.johnson@ci,medina.mn.us.

City councilors said that more information about potential commuter bus service needs to be in the survey — including the estimated amount of time it would take to make the trip to downtown Minneapolis. Information in the survey would affect how potential commuters would answer the questions.

Recently Medina sent a letter to the Metropolitan Council in support of Plymouth’s interest in starting a bus rapid transit route on Highway 55. The Met Council needs a certain level of potential ridership to start up the service. Administrator Johnson thanked Plymouth Transit Manager Sarah Helleckson for helping with revisions of the first draft of Medina’s survey.

JERRY HERTAUS VISITS

State Rep. Jerry Hertaus, R-Greenfield, stopped by to review the state Legislature’s accomplishments this past year. Then he talked about issues that the Legislature is likely to deal with during the upcoming session.

Hertaus said he was concerned that Minnesota is getting very near its credit limit for bonding. The Legislature deals with bonding bills every other year, and 2014 is a bonding bill year. He added that some bonding requests are for wants rather than needs.

He suspected that the Legislature will pass a minimum wage bill and possibly a bill allowing Sunday sales of alcoholic beverages. Legislators might take a look at prohibiting use of e-cigarettes in non-smoking areas.

As far as roads are concerned, Hertaus said he wanted money to be used for current roads, such as Highway 55, before funding is approved for light rail transit.

Contact Susan Van Cleaf at susan.vancleaf@ecm-inc.com

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