School District to hold referendum in August 2022 for new athletic complex

Jess Bengtson
Crookston Times

    Following approval from the Crookston School Board at this week’s meeting, the district will hold a referendum August 9, 2022 to ask the taxpayers to help them construct a new athletic complex with a turf field and 8-lane track for $3.8 million to be paid over 12 years. The complex would be located north of the high school on the district’s land and there are discussions about having high school trades students and teacher Travis Oliver assist with the construction of a ticket/concessions/bathroom building to show the district’s commitment to the project.

    When asked if everything passed in August what the timeline would look like for construction of the complex, Superintendent Jeremy Olson told the board they would have shovels in the ground in 2023 but could not guarantee a completion date though it would be desirable to have it ready for the 2023-2024 school year.

    Crookston High School currently leases space for their football program at Ed Widseth Field on the University of Minnesota Crookston campus and utilizes the track at East Grand Forks high school for the Pirates’ track and field program, but conversations and a special committee have led the district to want their own complex. Olson says discussions with the University of Minnesota to purchase their facility have not been successful and the university doesn’t plan to put any money into the field as they no longer have a football program. Plus, he adds, the district cannot use money from certain funds on land they don’t own and only lease.

    “At some point that field won’t be playable any longer and we have to figure out a solution,” Olson explained.

    In the opinion from Zerr Berg Architects of probable cost for the athletic complex, the project total cost is $3,819,958 which includes earthwork/utilities, paving and fencing, artificial turf, excavation, prep and goalposts; all weather track, asphalt pavement including jumping events, jumping and throwing event accessories, grand stand with 750 seats, press box 30 feet long, field lighting, electrical work, A/E fees and contingency. Optional costs listed on the opinion are for the student-led building construction of the tickets/concessions/toilets building ($614,250 which represents contractor pricing) and possible visitors bleachers ($50,000) and grand stand seats at $300 each.

    In the analysis of tax impact from Ehlers Public Finance Advisors for potential bond issue for the August 2022 election, which shows the total bond issue amount as $3,915,000 which includes the estimated total interest over the 12 years, the impact on a residential homestead valued at $150,000 would be an estimated $23 change in annual taxes from 2022 to 2023. For commercial/industrial with an estimated market value of $500,000, it’s estimated there would be a $102 change in annual taxes from 2022 to 2023. For all agricultural property, estimated tax impact for 2022 includes a 60% reduction due to the School Building Bond Agricultural Credit and that percentage will increase to 70% by taxes payable in 2023 which is why a decrease is shown on the tax impact spreadsheet for both agricultural homestead and and agricultural non-homestead.