Following trend, school property taxes to increase
WILLMAR -- School property taxes will be going up in the Willmar area next year, as in other districts around the state. The Willmar School Board adopted a preliminary property tax levy of $5.2 million Monday. The district has a $38.4 million gen...
WILLMAR -- School property taxes will be going up in the Willmar area next year, as in other districts around the state.
The Willmar School Board adopted a preliminary property tax levy of $5.2 million Monday. The district has a $38.4 million general fund budget this year.
The final levy will be adopted in December, after the board holds a public hearing on its tax levy.
The preliminary levy represents a $760,000 increase -- 17.25 percent -- over this year's property tax levy, Bob Haines, business and finance director, told the board.
However, individual properties may see smaller increases. Haines offered examples. A $500,000 business would see the school property tax increase about 7.4 percent, or about $200 a year. School taxes on a $125,000 home would increase 13.7 percent, or about $52 a year.
Several factors contribute to the increase in school taxes, which are determined by state law and the Department of Education, Haines said.
The new state funding plan for schools promises more money for schools but requires that some of that money come from local property taxes.
In addition, the state requires school districts to raise more from their local taxpayers when property values increase.
Property values are increasing in the Willmar School District. "Hopefully, it reflects economic development," Haines said.
School districts across the state are required to certify a preliminary levy before Sept. 30. Cities and counties also adopt preliminary levies in September.
County auditors will use that information to prepare truth in taxation statements, which will be mailed to property owners this fall.
Schools, cities and counties will then hold public hearings to discuss their hearings. State law allows them to adopt a final levy that is smaller but not larger than the preliminary levy.
The levy proposed on Monday was the maximum allowed by the state. Given the need to maintain programs and the strain on the budget from three years of flat state funding, "I don't see how you can not do it," Haines said.
Board member Shawn Mueske called the situation "unfortunate."
"I think the state should have given the money straight up," instead of raising local property taxes, he said.
n Heard a report from consultant Paul Pederson about employee health benefits.
n Set a public hearing for Oct. 11 on a tax abatement for the MinnWest Technology Campus. The tax abatement would allow the companies developing the campus to receive the property tax abatement until buildings were occupied. Once occupied, buildings would be part of a tax-free development zone.
n Approved the annual report on curriculum and student achievement. Information from the report will be included in the district's annual calendar sent to the community and is also available online at www.willmar.k12.mn.us .
n Approved snow removal contracts with Glacial Ridge Inc. and Lakeland Landscape & Design for the current school year.
n Approved a resolution assuring the district's compliance with 18 federal and state anti-discrimination laws. The resolution is an annual requirement.