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Willmar School Board approves 7.6 percent drop in tax levy

WILLMAR -- The property tax levy for Willmar Public Schools will be dropping 7.6 percent for 2018. The School Board adopted the tax levy Monday after holding its annual Truth-in-Taxation public hearing. The levy was unchanged from the preliminary...

WILLMAR - The property tax levy for Willmar Public Schools will be dropping 7.6 percent for 2018.

The School Board adopted the tax levy Monday after holding its annual Truth-in-Taxation public hearing. The levy was unchanged from the preliminary levy adopted in September.

Business and Finance Director Pam Harrington described details of the levy during the public hearing Monday evening. No one from the public attended.

After the hearing, the board unanimously approved the levy for next year.

The total school levy next year will be $8.12 million, down from $8.78 million this year.

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The Minnesota Department of Education sets local property taxes for school districts. The only variation comes in voter-approved levies. In Willmar, the district has two operating levies and a levy to make payments on the district's construction debt.

The property tax levy is the local contribution to the district's operations. The property taxes paid in 2018 will fund the 2018-19 school year. The budget for that year will be approved in June 2018.

For the 2017-18 school year, the district estimates general fund revenue of $54 million and overall revenue of $64 million for the current school year.

State aid makes up about 85 percent of general fund revenue. The general fund pays for daily operations of the district. Other revenue comes from local levy, federal grants and other smaller sources, like fees or tuition. The local levy makes up almost 7 percent of the general fund.

The breakdown of the 2018 levy is $3.6 million for debt service, to pay for the voter-approved construction program; $3.7 million for general fund; $641,000 for voter-approved operating levies; and $374,000 for community education.

Harrington said the school levy on its own won't give property owners much indication of what will happen with their 2018 taxes.

A property tax bill is a combination of county, city/township and school taxes, along with special levies. Changes in the valuation of an individual property or the total value of property in the district can also affect it.

Harrington said the state has refund or deferral programs to assist homestead property owners.

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Information about the district's Truth-in-Taxation hearings, budgets and other financial information is available at willmar.k12.mn.us, under Departments and Finance.

The Minnesota Department of Revenue web site is taxes.state.mn.us.

Related Topics: EDUCATION
In 42 years in the newspaper industry, Linda Vanderwerf has worked at several daily newspapers in Minnesota, including the Mesabi Daily News, now called the Mesabi Tribune in Virginia. Previously, she worked for the Las Cruces Sun-News in New Mexico and the Rapid City Journal in the Black Hills of South Dakota. She has been a reporter at the West Central Tribune for nearly 27 years.

Vanderwerf can be reached at email: lvanderwerf@wctrib.com or phone 320-214-4340
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