RPS technology tax levy to be on the ballot for voters

(ABC 6 News) – Rochester voters are going to have to decide how much online security is worth.

If they want to beef it up, they’ll have to pay up.

Tuesday night, the RPS school board voted to put a technology levy on the ballot and let voters decide if they’re willing to pay to beef up safety.

“We’ll be focusing on school safety, technology equipment, things to improve our protection against cyber security,” RPS board chair Cathy Nathan said.

The board wants to prevent another incident like the ransomware attack in April that crippled the district’s technology systems.

If approved, the levy would provide the school district with over $10 million and free up the $7 million currently planned to be used from the general fund.

Taxes would go up for ten years costing the average homeowner about $11 more a month.

“We think that 11 dollars a month for median house value is a good amount for people to think about investing in the future of our students,” Nathan said.

The district will also have to decide on the current operating levy.

Approved back in 2015, the current ten-year levy is set to expire in 2025.

They can either put a new operation levy on the ballot or extend the current one.

That option didn’t sit well with some.

“We’ll feel like our trust was broken if you renew that particular levy, cause we passed it with the understanding it would expire,” Rochester resident Ray Hicks said.

If the levy isn’t extended or expanded before it expires, RPS anticipates it would need to cut another $17 million from its budget.

The board has until June 2025 to decide what to do.

Over the next few months, the district will work to educate taxpayers on the importance of the technology levy and why it’s needed.

If the levy fails, they’ll still have that $7 million that will go towards technology and cyber security.

The vote is on November 7th.