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Willmar School Board approves 3.89 percent levy increase

Following the Truth-in-Taxation hearing at Monday's Willmar School Board meeting, the board unanimously approved the tax levy payable in 2023.

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A file photo of the Willmar Public Schools sign at the Willmar Education and Arts Center, where the administration offices are located.
Erica Dischino / West Central Tribune file photo
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WILLMAR — The tax levy approved Monday by the Willmar School Board is a bit higher than the preliminary levy approved in September, due to adjustments made by the Minnesota Department of Education.

The final levy for taxes payable in 2023 was set at $8,395,531, a 3.89% or $314,722 increase over the levy payable in 2022.

The approval was made following the annual Truth-in-Taxation public hearing, which gives the public a chance to comment on the school's levy and budget. No members of the public asked to be heard Monday.

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Normally, a tax levy cannot be increased over the preliminary amount, but Willmar Public Schools Business and Finance Director Kathryn Haase explained at Monday's meeting that if the Minnesota Department of Education makes adjustments between the preliminary and final approval, the levy can increased as long as the school district had approved the maximum levy allowed in September, which Willmar did.

The school board on Sept. 12 approved the maximum levy allowed by the Minnesota Department of Education , which was about $267,000 or 3.3% higher than the levy on this year's property taxes.

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According to the Truth-in-Taxation presentation given by Haase, the Minnesota Department of Education changed the levy ratio for Willmar, meaning a bit more of the school's general fund revenue will be coming from the tax levy than previously planned, meaning an additional $306,620 was added to the levy.

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Willmar Public Schools Business and Finance Director Kathryn Haase
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There was also a change in the district's debt service fund requiring an increase of $20,610. There was a $12,508 decrease made in the district's community service fund for the School Age Child Care Program.

The levy adopted will appear on 2023 property tax bills and will fund operations for the 2023-24 school year.

The vast majority of the school's revenue comes from the state, nearly 83 percent. The local tax levy makes up approximately 8.6 percent with the rest coming from the federal government and other sources.

When it comes to where the school spends money, nearly 77 percent goes to the salaries, wages and benefits of its staff. The rest of the pie is made up of purchased services such as bus contracts, supplies and materials and capital expenditures.

"We are in the people business," Haase said.

Shelby Lindrud is a reporter with the West Central Tribune of Willmar. Her focus areas are arts and entertainment, agriculture, features writing and the Kandiyohi County Board.

She can be reached via email slindrud@wctrib.com or direct 320-214-4373.


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