Fifty-five percent of Osceola area voters said “no” last week to the school district’s request to increase the local property tax levy. 

According to the school board’s official count, 1,237 voted against the referendum request April 2 while 1,018 voted in favor.

The levy would have increased the levy by $2.75 million over the course of four years. The funds would have been used primarily to maintain operations at current levels.

Flyer misrepresents tax increase

It will likely never be known whether a flyer distributed in the days before the election influenced the outcome. Some information on the document was accurate, but key figures were exaggerated, more than doubling the projected tax impact on property owners. 

The flyer listed the final year’s tax increase on a $100,000 home as $412 per year. According to information from the school district, the final year’s tax increase on a $100,000 property would have been $176 per year. Where the flyer asserted the tax impact on a $200,000 home as $824, the district’s calculation was $352. On a $300,000 home the flyer claimed a $1,236 increase, the district $528.

The flyers were distributed to mailboxes illegally. 

The Osceola post office reported that a postal inspector is investigating the case. 

School board accepts results

Acknowledging the election results April 3, the school board thanked members of Osceola Proud, community members and staff for their efforts in supporting the request.

Still, the board was not pleased with the results. This was the second referendum to fail since 2017.

“Our community doesn’t realize we have taken a good school district and turned it into a great school district,” said Timm Johnson, outgoing vice president. “It makes you wonder.” 

Some board members speculated if the community received all the information they needed to vote capably. 

Rosanne Anderson queried, “Didn’t we give them everything they wanted?” 

In summation, Kammerud answered, “We’ll get through it. We always do.”

Osceola School Board election results

According to the Osceola School Board’s official election results, candidate Brian Meyer and incumbent Pete Kammerud won the election with 1,320 and 1,310 votes, respectively. They will begin their three-year term April 22.

Candidate Jan Carlson received 918 votes. Would-be incumbent Timm Johnson did not run. The Sun is planning further coverage of the long-time school board member’s departure.

Mara Martinson contributed reporting on this article.

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