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Taxes could go down as school board OKs under levy

Taxes could go down a bit for residents in the New Richmond School District, but don't get too excited -- the tax dip will likely only last one year.

The New Richmond School District Board of Education voted Monday to approve a preliminary budget with a $1 million "under levy" while keeping expenditures at $30.29 million, based on a written report by Fiscal and Building Operations Director Brian Johnston.

Johnston's report said that the district will carry over $1.629 million from the 2012-13 budget.

"This will have two impacts. One: it gives local residents and businesses a one-year reprieve on taxes. Two: It puts us below the low revenue limit ceiling," Johnston wrote in his report to the board.

After warning the board members that the approach is a prediction based on certain assumptions, District Administrator Jeff Moberg lauded the under levy.

"I think it's a very solid plan," Moberg said. "I think at its core what Brian is saying is that if there's a surplus -- and a fund balance truly isn't a surplus; it can act as such, but it's truly not. But if there is such a thing, it should sit with the taxpayers, not the school system. That's really what he's proposing to you."

Moberg also said the plan offers the district some flexibility with state-imposed levy increase limits down the road.

According to Johnston's report, the one-year tax decrease could amount to about $41 on a property valued at $100,000, about $61 on a property valued at $150,000 and about $82 on a $200,000 property. Without the under levy, taxes would rise about $51 for a $100,000 property, $76 for a $150,000 property and $101 for a $200,000 property.

Jonnston also wrote that the downside of his plan would force the board to make up all or part of the decrease next year, which will result in the need to raise taxes again after the one-year reprieve.

Moberg said that Johnston would go over the entire under levy plan, along with the proposed budget, at next month's annual meeting before any mill rates are formally approved by the board.

In other business:

--The board approved the resignation of several employees, including Annette Sislo (food service at Hillside), Anne Albertson (paraeducator at Hillside), Arianne Green (food service at the high school), Shelly Schmitz (administrative assistant at the middle school), Mary Wittstock (food service at the high school), Gary Kittel (crossing guard), and three extra-curricular positions.

--The board approved the hire of nine employees and extra-curricular positions. Hires include John Flynn (middle school server/dishwasher), Jori Healy (long-term sub, Grade 6 language arts), Jaimi Hoernke (high school Special Services teacher), Lynette Johnson (high school Special Services paraeducator), Tara Larson (Starr Elementary Special Services paraeducator), Alyssa Martinson (Starr Elementary Special Services paraeducator), Lisa Sabby (middle school Special Services paraeducator), Melissa Schulze (Gifted & Talented teacher at Hillside, Paperjack and Starr) and Jacquelyn Warner (Starr Elementary administrative assistant).

--The board approved administrative contracts for 2013-15 with the same pay increase that teachers received.

--The annual meeting will take place at 7 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 16, at the high school auditorium. The regular board meeting will immediately follow the annual meeting.

Micheal Foley
Micheal Foley worked at RiverTown Multimedia from July 2013 to June 2015 as editor at the New Richmond News. 
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