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Willmar Schools' preliminary levy shows decrease

Briana Sanchez / Tribune file photo

WILLMAR — Property taxes for Willmar Public Schools are expected to decrease a bit in 2018.

The Willmar School Board approved the preliminary 2018 levy at a special board meeting Monday. The school levy is one portion of property owners' final tax bills, which include county and city/township levies.

The preliminary levy of $8.1 million is about 7.6 percent less than the 2017 levy, a decrease of $668,000. The levy will be part of the $54 million general fund revenue and $64 million overall revenue projected for the 2017-18 school year.

Business and Finance Director Pam Harrington described the changes in the proposed levy for the board.

School property tax levies are controlled by state statute, she said, and school districts must adopt a preliminary levy by the end of September. A final levy will be adopted in December.

Harrington recommended setting the preliminary levy at the maximum allowed, and the board voted unanimously to do that. The board will be allowed to reduce its levy later but would not be able to increase it. Levying less than the maximum could affect state aid later, she said.

Most of the decrease in the levy will be in the general fund, which pays for school operations.

Funding in the Health and Safety and Long-term Facilities Maintenance funds increased a year ago to pay for a Middle School sprinkler system. With the system installed, the levy will be decreased. That accounts for the largest portion of the levy decrease for 2018.

The district will make a $3.6 million payment on its $52.35 million bond issue, the district's only long-term debt. The district is required to levy 105 percent of what's needed to make payments, to make up for the possibility of delinquent taxes. The excess funding is reserved in the debt service fund, Harrington said, and it will be used periodically to make payments and allow a one-year decrease in the levy.

The district will hold a Truth in Taxation at 6 p.m. Dec. 11 to discuss the final levy and adopt the final levy after the hearing.

Linda Vanderwerf

I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.

Follow me on Twitter: @lindavanderwerf

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