|10/3/2019 2:09:00 PM|
Preliminary North Branch School Board levy adopted
North Branch School Distirct 138 Finance Director Dr. Todd Tetzlaff described the pay-2020 levy that he presented last week as “pretty consistent” with 2019’s. Then, minus member Kevin Bollman, the Board approved the 2020 package 5-0. The levy was the only item on the agenda.
The required public hearing will be December 12. This a preliminary levy is a maximum and the final levy is adopted after the hearing. Readers will see mailed property tax statements in a few weeks based on these preliminary numbers.
North Branch School Board is currently meeting in the gym, at the Education Center on Grand Avenue, while administrative space is still under construction as part of an addition to the building’s south end.
North Branch Area School District has seen an increase in property valuation, and when valuation goes up it affects the property tax as a multiplier in the formula. The end result is that North Branch School District will collect additional revenues in pay-2020, but this is not necessarily due to any Board budget decisions, Tetzlaff explained.
Although for 2020 the Board will levy for extra “tax abatement” funding it must contribute towards what is now a two-year refund owed to Northern Natural Gas. Two more years of contested tax amounts are pending in court. (See Press story September 12.)
North Branch city, school district and area townships are affected by the tax court ruling. The court agreed the natural gas distribution company’s assets were over-valued by the state Department of Revenue.
Tetzlaff spoke briefly about the 27 dedicated levies that combine for the budget, and how the state holds relative control over spending, as it sets maximum amounts any district can collect after reviewing tax capacity.
North Branch has enacted an option levy and a Board approved tax, both of which were new powers granted by the legislature, that total $724 per pupil.
North Branch, however, is one of very few districts in Minnesota without a voter-approved local excess operating levy.
Two years ago voters did authorize North Branch to sell construction bonds and okayed an annual technology levy, which are in the pay 2020 plan.
All these debt service needs and the abatement funds, etc run a little over $5 million and the increase in this area for 2020 is about $70,000.
The bottomline for the local pay-2020 levy that was approved is the maximum allowable from the state. Tetzlaff added that numbers can change over the course of September prelim and December final, so it’s best to adopt the maximum at least at the preliminary stage for the best flexibility. The levy is at $9,408,779 compared to 2019 levy at $9,052,774.