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Brainerd School Board approves preliminary levy

Since 2016, taxable market value for the Brainerd School District has increased by 21%, resulting in an average annual increase of about 4%.

Marci Lord
Marci Lord, Brainerd Public Schools director of business services, explained all the details Wednesday at the Brainerd School Board meeting and how they come up with the tax levy each year. Jennifer Kraus / Brainerd Dispatch

Taxpayers in the Brainerd School District will not see a huge change in their upcoming school property taxes.

The Brainerd School Board set a preliminary levy Wednesday, Sept. 29, with an increase of .45% for the 2022-23 school year. Once the preliminary is set, the school board cannot increase the levy but can decrease it. The board will vote on the final levy at its December meeting.

The district estimates its proposed tax levy for 2022 to be at $24.7 million — an increase of $110,343.70 from the 2021 school year. The district operates a total combined fund revenue budget of approximately $110.6 million. The proposed local property tax levy accounts for about 22.3% of the district’s annual budget of all funds.

The district’s levy has increased on average at 5.64% in the past five years and 4.07% in the past 10 years.

Marci Lord, director of business services, explained all the details at the board meeting and how they come up with the tax levy each year. The mechanics of a local levy for a school district relative to budgeting are slightly different from cities and counties, she said. Since school districts operate on a fiscal year, which runs from July 1 through June 30, the levy that is proposed and certified in 2021 are for taxes payable in calendar year 2022 and the revenue the school district receives is recognized in the fiscal year 2023 budget — July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2023. This means the levy being proposed for certification is for revenue for the 2022-23 school year.

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Lord said the school district’s annual property tax levy is enrollment driven, as school funding from the state is based on an average daily membership for each student. The district had 6,170 as an average daily membership and the district projects that number will go down in the 2021-22 and 2022-23 school years.

Lord told the board the district saw fewer students because of the COVID-19 pandemic and never recovered the students who left.

The school district’s local property tax levy is broken down into four major categories:

  • The general fund, which was down 7.6% from prior year;

  • Community education, up 9.65%;

  • Debt service, up 7.7%

  • Other postemployment debt service, down .58%.

The population in the school district also plays a role in the levy. The district population adjusted by the school board in 2016-2021 is 43,233 and it is expected to increase to 44,920 in 2022. Since 2016, taxable market value for the Brainerd School District has increased by 21%, resulting in an average annual increase of about 4%.
In the school district in 2020:

  • Market value, $5,964,522,357;

  • Referendum market value, $4,412,937,280;

  • Net tax capacity, $65,471,302.

In Lord’s report, she said, “The tax impact of a local levy is a function of the levied amount relative to the tax base in which this amount is spread across. This being said, just because an amount being levied is going up or down, does not necessarily mean that this is a direct correlation with the expected taxpayer impact.
“Even though actual figures for the tax base in which this proposed levy are not yet finalized by the counties, there is a general trend in property values and corresponding tax base for the amount of taxable property in which the district’s levy will be spread.”

JENNIFER KRAUS may be reached at jennifer.kraus@brainerddispatch.com or 218-855-5851. Follow me at www.twitter.com/jennewsgirl on Twitter.
Related Topics: EDUCATION
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