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School tax levy up slightly from annual meeting

The Somerset Board of Education overturned a decision it made a year ago that reduced its capability of levying for all of the funds allowed under state rules.

Under Department of Public Instruction finance program rules, the school board can only recapture 75 percent of the levy money that it reduced from the levy last year.

With this addition, the school board decided last Thursday to increase the district mill rate for the 2004-05 school year by 4.03 percent.

The tax levy is finalized at $6,628,348, an increase of 15.15 percent over last year. The actual approved school budget will be $11,571,716, an increase of 12.18 percent.

The tax levy is up from the preliminary levy that was approved at the school district annual meeting in September. That is largely because equalized land values did not increase as much as anticipated. The board had projected that land values would increase by 15 percent, but the final numbers from the state said the land values in the district increased by 10.57 percent over the past year.

With this levy increase, the owners of a $200,000 house in the district can expect their school taxes to be at $2,170. That is an increase of $84 over last year.

School district administrator Randy Rosburg said the recapturing of the approximately $149,000 in funds from last year's levy is partially the cause of the mill rate increasing by four percent. He did a preliminary budget for next year and said that the mill rate should be near to the level it was at last year when that budget is finalized.

Last year's decision to lower the tax levy was showing up as a ripple effect that would further cut the district's ability to levy in each successive year. Rosburg said that with projections showing that the district enrollment could skyrocket in the next 10 years, the district needs every available dollar to keep its facilities up to date.

Long-time Buildings and Grounds committee member Mike Connor said he hoped that some of this money could be used to help develop a fund balance for capital improvements in the district. This would help the district to plan for major projects like roof replacements, etc.

Other action

• Allison Klis, the board member working with the Community Task Force, said the Task Force is hoping to have its findings ready to present at the board's November meeting.

• Belisle Excavating was awarded the snow removal contract for the school district for this winter.

• M&I Bank was awarded the short-term borrowing contract for the school district for this year at an interest rate at 2.14 percent.

Dave Newman
Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for nearly 30 years.
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