Increase of 12.1% likely in school-related property tax
Property owners will likely see an increase in their school-related 2015 taxes. At a special Brainerd School Board meeting Thursday, the group approved a preliminary 12.1 percent increase for the 2015 levy. That number can be decreased before it'...
Property owners will likely see an increase in their school-related 2015 taxes.
At a special Brainerd School Board meeting Thursday, the group approved a preliminary 12.1 percent increase for the 2015 levy.
That number can be decreased before it's finalized in December, but it cannot be increased.
If the increase is finalized, it would mean a resident with a house valued at $100,000 would pay about $51 more next year.
For a business owner with a commercial property valued at $200,000, it means an estimated $120 increase.
The increase will help the district pay for things officials have committed to, said superintendent Klint Willert. An example being "reasonable class sizes."
"Without sustainable funding, we can't continue those commitments," he said.
The preliminary total tax levy is $18,627,129. That's $2,015,463 above last year.
Property taxes account for about 20 percent of the district's budget.
It goes into three funds:
• The general fund: Preliminary $9.04 million; an increase of $1.9 million over the year before.
• Community service fund: Preliminary $572,341; a decrease of $13,341.
• Debt service fund: Preliminary $9.01 million; an increase of $123,003.
There are several reasons for the preliminary increase, said Steve Lund, director of business services for the district.
The biggest driver behind the increase is in the general fund, where there's a change in local option revenue, a higher health and safety expense (to cover the deficit spending of projects), and a building lease levy (primarily payment for lower site upgrades).
The local option revenue will pay for several recent program expansions: Warrior Academy at the high school for at-risk students, increased wellness instruction at the high school, expansion of middle school activities, enhancement of a counselor at the high school, increased funding for Warrior Way fee subsidy, and additional teachers, including: instrumental music, sixth grade, three seventh- and eighth-grade, fourth grade and kindergarten.
School board member Tom Haglin said the recent improvements are needed to add value to the district and to continue to attract families to Brainerd.
"I caution that if we don't continue to make investments for our future ... we will spiral down," he said.
School board member Bob Nystrom agreed.
The district is competing in a market of charter schools and online schools, he said. The district made the decisions to add staff and programs and now has to pay for them, he said.
"If we don't approve (the levy), we'll see the start of a downward spiral," he said. "We must remain competitive."
If the board wants to lower the preliminary 12.1 percent levy increase, which is the maximum the board can do, that will mean making cuts to programs or staff, Lund said.
Voting against the approval was school board member Sue Kern, noting that she would like to see the levy lower.
At the school board's Dec. 8 meeting, the group will hold a public hearing on the levy, and will likely vote on finalizing it.