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Referendum 2020

In June, the APS School Board voted unanimously to place a funding question before voters on November 3, 2020. The decision was reached based on the recommendations of the Referendum 2020 Working Group and Board Finance Committee. The Referendum 2020 Working Group was made up of board members and school staff, with information provided by the APS financial advisor.

The ballot question is as follows:

School District Question
Approval of New School District Referendum Revenue Authorization

The board of Independent School District No. 492 (Austin), Minnesota has proposed to increase the School District's general education revenue by $505 per pupil, subject to an annual increase at the rate of inflation. The proposed new referendum revenue authorization would be first levied in 2020 for taxes payable in 2021 and applicable for ten (10) years unless otherwise revoked or reduced as provided by law.

Shall the increase in the general education revenue proposed by the board of Independent School District No. 492 (Austin), Minnesota be approved?


Upon passage of a new operating referendum, APS will receive an increase of revenue of $2.8 million annually. 49% of this new revenue will be in the form of state aid while 51% is local levy. The tax impact on a $125,000 home is an increase of $9.95 per month.

With passage of the operating referendum, APS will be able to retain programs, current class sizes.

Please see the video below for an explanation of the need for the referendum. You will also find links to a more in-depth presentation on financial issues, a property tax impact estimator, and FAQs.

Full Financial Presentation

Property Tax Impact Estimator


On Tuesday, November 3, 2020, school district residents will be asked to approve an increase in the operating referendum of $505 per pupil, subject to an annual increase at the rate of inflation. The proposed new referendum revenue authorization would be first levied in 2020 for taxes payable in 2021 and applicable for ten (10) years. This special election is held on the General Election day.

State Aid comprises 80% of the revenues in the General Fund. Local levy is only 5% of the General Fund revenue with the remaining funds coming in the form of federal aid and miscellaneous revenue.

Upon approval, the annual operating referendum increase of $505 per pupil unit will provide $2.83 million of additional funding each year. The current operating referendum of $42 per pupil unit only provides $240,000 in funding annually.

Yes, the operating referendum funding will be 49% state equalization aid with the remaining 51% coming in the form of property tax levy. Therefore, upon passage $1.38 million of new funding will come in the form of state aid while the remaining $1.45 million will be in the form of local levy. The grand total of additional funding is $2.83 million. The only way to receive the equalization aid is by approving the levy referendum.

The state average operating referendum is $1,040 per pupil unit. The current operating referendum for the Austin Public School is only $42 per pupil unit. The average of the Big 9 Conference is $857 per pupil unit.

The General Education formula for Minnesota public schools has not kept up with inflation. Therefore, public school districts pursue operating referendums to fill the gap in funding.

The funds from the operating referendum will be used to continue to operate the school district, offset the lack of funds provided by the state and mitigate the effects of future budget cuts.

If the operating referendum vote fails, the APS will need to implement more cuts and cost saving measures. The following list includes the major area where cuts are likely to occur:
  • Reduce employee positions
  • Increase class sizes
  • Narrow the scope of program and course offerings

Yes, the school district has already implemented $1.2 million in cost saving measures, revenue enhancements and staff reductions.

The only agricultural property that is taxed for an operating referendum is the house, garage and one acre of farm homestead. All other bare land, either homestead or non-homestead is exempt from the property tax regarding an operating referendum.

Any questions regarding the operating referendum ballot question can be directed to Lori Volz, Executive Director of Finance & Operations at

Absentee/Early Voting through November 2

Available now through November 2, Austin residents may vote early in person or by absentee ballot at home.

To request an absentee ballot be mailed to you, download an absentee ballot application or request an absentee ballot online.

Voters may return marked absentee ballots by mail and ballots must be postmarked on or before Election Day (November 3).

Voting in Person on November 3

Election Day is Tuesday, November 3 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Find your polling place here. Social distancing and disinfection procedures will be followed at the polls.

You can register to vote before November 3 and save time on Election Day. If you forget to register before Election Day, Minnesota allows same-day voter registration.

Austin Public Schools
401 3rd Ave NW
Austin, MN  55912
Phone: 507-460-1900
Superintendent: David Krenz
Administrative Assistant: Sharon Alms

Important Phone Numbers
District Enrollment: 507-460-1937