Brainerd School Board approve 3.8% levy for 2021

The board also hosted a virtual truth & taxation public hearing, but no one spoke at the event.

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A pie chart illustrating projected revenue at $111,376,006 for the Brainerd School District's operational funds. Image courtesy of the Brainerd School District

The Brainerd School Board unanimously approved a 3.8% increase to the 2021 tax levy during a virtual meeting Monday, Dec. 14.

Many properties may see a tax decrease compared to 2019, as Finance Director Marci Lord noted during her presentation before the annual truth and taxation public hearing mandated by state law to take place before the levy is approved. A shortage of state funding and the district’s extensive facilities revamp were cited as two primary reasons for the increase. No one spoke in the public hearing.

“One of the challenges that we face as a school district is that our (state) General Education Fund formula has not kept up with inflation,” said Lord, who noted special education is also chronically underfunded statewide, by as much as 40% as recently as fiscal year 2018. “This last year, we saw a 2% increase. And if we were to try to keep up to that inflation, we would have to have a 7.7% increase this year. … The result of that is there's a growing dependence on referendum revenue.”

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A spreadsheet of the Brainerd School District's revenues and expenditures for 2020 and projected for 2021. Image courtesy of the Brainerd School District


The levy was increased by $893,642, or 3.8%. The levy for 2020 was $23,688,565, while the 2021 levy total is projected at $24,582,207. This is driven, in part, by a 7.8% increase, or $198,000, in the debt service fund and a more than $840,000 increase in the district’s long-term facilities maintenance costs taken on by the Brainerd School District to pay for its districtwide four-year facilities project currently underway.

For an average home in the district with a market value at roughly $156,000, the total school district tax burden is $581, which is $32 more than 2018, but $20 less than 2019. Lord noted property values across the district increased by about 7% this year, which may entail somewhat higher taxes predicated on that value, but indicated these potential increases would not be tied to the 2018 bonding referendum.

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A spreadsheet breakdown of the 2021 tax levy and how its projected to factor for district properties based on estimated property value. Image courtesy of the Brainerd School District

In turn, an average commercial/industrial property valued at $219,000 is expected to see $1,334 in owed taxes, which represents a $28 reduction compared to last year.

“From 2018 to 2019, there was that bump that was the year that (the bonding referendum) got approved,” Lord explained as she pointed out a line graph illustrating the tax burden on district residents. “We’re trying to keep that line as straight as we can so that people don't see a huge increase in their taxes.”

GABRIEL LAGARDE may be reached at or 218-855-5859. Follow at .


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