New Richmond District budget approved, new posts questionedNew Richmond School District residents approved a $14,036,252 tax levy (a .73 percent decrease from the previous year) at the annual meeting of the school board on Monday, Sept. 17.
By: By Jackie Grumish, New Richmond News
New Richmond School District residents approved a $14,036,252 tax levy (a .73 percent decrease from the previous year) at the annual meeting of the school board on Monday, Sept. 17.
At the meeting, Brian Johnston, the district’s director of fiscal and building operations, said the tax levy is a actually set by the state.
“It’s based on the revenue limit the state gives us and subtracting the state aid,” he said.
According to Johnston’s estimates, equalized value in the district went down, which in turn means the mill rate has to go up.
“The mill rate has to make up for it,” he said.
To the average homeowner, that means a home with $100,000 property value will see a $53 increase in their taxes – up to $ 1,250 from $1,205 the previous year.
Compared to other districts in the area, New Richmond remains at the top of the scale, he said. Somerset was the only school in 2011-12 to have a higher mill rate than New Richmond.
In all, the district expects to collect $8,127,035 from property taxes.
Another $20,163,079 will come from state aid and about $201,000 will come from federal stimulus money.
“Our state aid is determined based on the property wealth of each student,” Johnston said. “It’s been dropping and because of that our state aid has been going up.”
In the budget itself are several staff additions, Johnston said. For example, the district added three full-time literacy coaches, a full-time assistant director of technology and a full-time human resources director.
The human resources director position, filled by former High School Principal Jeff Moberg, was questioned by many of the residents in the audience.
One resident asked whether there was a need for the position in a district of New Richmond’s size.
According to Morrie Veilleux, district administrator, there is.
Veilleux explained that the school board hired a consultant several years ago to study the need for a human resources department. At that time, when the district was smaller than it is today, it was recommended that a human resources director be hired.
According to Veilleux, the human resources director position is in a trial year.
Moberg, who’s slated to become the new district administrator in 2013, is currently testing the position as a way to determine whether there’s a real need for it. Veilleux said it’s great experience for an incoming district administrator because it allows Moberg to learn the ins and outs of the district while setting policy before he takes over the district administrator role.
Paula Kolbeck, board member, said in her business, it’s recommended that one human resources employee is hired for every 100 employees. In the school district’s case, that would mean four human resources employees.
“We did not create this position for Jeff Moberg,” Veilleux said. “River Falls has a human resources director, Eau Claire – while they’re much larger – has an entire human resources office, Hudson has a human resources team... It’s time for New Richmond. It’s time for New Richmond to realize they’re not a little rural school anymore.”
Veilleux said Moberg was the perfect person to test the new position because he’ll be filling the role as district administrator next year.
“What kind of person would we have attracted to that position if we said it might just be a year?” he asked. “Jeff Moberg is better prepared than anyone I’ve seen. He’s a gem. He’s the real deal and quite frankly I’ll be amazed if you can keep him. He’s already turned down one offer to be district administrator in another district with the anticipation that he’d get this job.”
Another resident in the audience said he agrees with Veilleux’s assessment of Moberg.
“We’re not questioning Jeff Moberg,” he said. “He’s a great guy and a great educator. We’re questioning the human resources director.”
Moberg was not at the annual meeting, due to a family emergency.