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Willmar Schools tax hearing set for Tuesday

WILLMAR -- The Willmar School Board will conduct its Truth in Taxation hearing at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in the first floor boardroom at the Willmar Education and Arts Center, 611 Fifth St. S.W.

The public hearing will provide taxpayers with information about the school budget and the proposed property taxes to be paid in 2009. The hearing does not address property values or tax levels set by other units of government.

The School Board will adopt the final property tax levy at its December meeting.

Most school revenue comes from state aid, with the rest coming from federal funding, local school levies and various grants.

The state controls all property tax levies for school expenses, except for voter-approved levies. Since the district voters approved a new operating levy of $201.51 per pupil, local property taxes for schools will be going up in 2009.

The levy payable in 2009 will be $6.6 million, an increase of $1 million from the levy paid in 2008. The local levy will increase nearly 18 percent, with much of that attributed to the new operating levy.

The current school year budget includes a projected $43.5 million in expenditures in the general fund, which covers salaries, benefits supplies and most day-to-day school operations. It makes up 87percent of the annual expenses of the district.

The district also plans expenditures of $2.15 million in its food service fund, $1.9 million in its community education fund and $1.5 million in its debt service fund.

The food service, community education and debt service funds are separate from the general fund, and money from one fund cannot be transferred to another.

Revenues for the four funds are expected to fall about $2.6 million short of expenditures, with the difference made up by reserve funds.