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Bemidji School District approves 2011-12 levy at Truth in Taxation meeting

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news Bemidji, 56619
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

The Bemidji School District approved the Fiscal Year 2011-12 Levy at $8,997,035.94 during a Truth in Taxation meeting held Monday night at the Bemidji High School.

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The school district has roughly $9.5 million in levy authority but is levying a lesser amount for 2011-12. This under levy is a continuation from the $501-per-pupil operating referendum that was previously passed.

According to Bemidji School District's Director of Business Services Chris Leinen, approximately $6.5 million of the total levy is voted on by the voters of Bemidji School District, and approximately $2.5 million is received from the Minnesota Department of Education and granted through the state legislature.

At any given time the district works on a past budget, which is audited, a current budget and a future budget, which it sets the levy for.

Tax levy authority may only be given to a school board through voter approval or legislative action. A school board does not have any taxing authority unless it comes from the state legislature or the voters of the school district.

Current budget

The total budget revenue for the current year budget is approximately $58.6 million. Of this, Leinen said, 69 percent will come from the state; 19 percent from local dollars; 10 percent from federal dollars and .02 percent from other sources.

The district's expense budget for FY 2010-11 is $59.1 million. Of this amount, 75 percent, or $44.4 million, is spent on wages and benefits.

"Our largest expenditure is in wages and benefits," Leinen said. "We are a service-oriented entity."

The school district has a policy to set its fund balance between 8-10 percent. The policy has fluctuated over time, mostly below 8 percent, Leinen said.

"We are looking at having roughly 8 percent at the end of the existing year," he said.

2011-12 Levy

Factors that can affect the amount of a levy are changes in tax class rates (residential, agricultural, commercial, seasonal, etc), credits given at the state, valuation changes if a property value goes up or down, and state shifts to local government.

"As valuations go up, the local levy goes up and the state aid portion goes down," Leinen said.

In 2001, the Bemidji School District levied $10.6 million. That dropped to about $4.5 million in 2002.

"There was a significant change in how the state funded education," Leinen said. "Prior to that time there was a statewide property tax that funded education. That tax was reduced to zero and the state took on the responsibility of funding education through general fund dollars."

Over the course of the next two years, the levy grew slightly. In 2004, the school district approved the operating levy for the first time. Since that time, the levy has grown from about $6.5 million up to $9 million.

"That growth is largely due to that aid and levy mix," Leinen said.

The school district currently has levy authority of approximately $9.5 million. For 2011-12, the district approved a levy amount of $8.9 million, a .11 percent, or $9,528, decrease.

This is consistent with the historical practice of under levying in the area of Health and Safety in order to help offset for operating referendum.

The general fund has decreased by about $349,230.

"Values are now declining so you are seeing decrease in local levy and state aid will pick up the balance of that," Leinen said.

The school district's debt service levy is up by $330,540. This is a normal fluctuation, Leinen said.

School boards are required to levy 105 percent, Leinen said, which means the district ends up with extra dollars, causing a fluctuation in the following year's levy.

"If the board were to take advantage of all the dollars, as far as the levy, the board would have another $585,903.46," said Superintendent Jim Hess. "We have traditionally under levied because of the operating referendum that the voters passed. It's important to note there are thousands of dollars that the board is not going to take advantage of through this commitment and long-term agreement with the tax payers in our school district."

Levy overview:

E General fund: $4,361, 760

E Community Ed: $360,382

E Debt Service: $4,274,894

E Total levy: $8,997,036

E Decrease from 2010: $9,527

The Bemidji School District approved the Fiscal Year 2011-12 Levy at $8,997,035.94 during a Truth in Taxation meeting held Monday night at the Bemidji High School.

The school district has roughly $9.5 million in levy authority but is levying a lesser amount for 2011-12. This under levy is a continuation from the $501-per-pupil operating referendum that was previously passed.

According to Bemidji School District's Director of Business Services Chris Leinen, approximately $6.5 million of the total levy is voted on by the voters of Bemidji School District, and approximately $2.5 million is received from the Minnesota Department of Education and granted through the state legislature.

At any given time the district works on a past budget, which is audited, a current budget and a future budget, which it sets the levy for.

Tax levy authority may only be given to a school board through voter approval or legislative action. A school board does not have any taxing authority unless it comes from the state legislature or the voters of the school district.

Current budget

The total budget revenue for the current year budget is approximately $58.6 million. Of this, Leinen said, 69 percent will come from the state; 19 percent from local dollars; 10 percent from federal dollars and .02 percent from other sources.

The district's expense budget for FY 2010-11 is $59.1 million. Of this amount, 75 percent, or $44.4 million, is spent on wages and benefits.

"Our largest expenditure is in wages and benefits," Leinen said. "We are a service-oriented entity."

The school district has a policy to set its fund balance between 8-10 percent. The policy has fluctuated over time, mostly below 8 percent, Leinen said.

"We are looking at having roughly 8 percent at the end of the existing year," he said.

2011-12 Levy

Factors that can affect the amount of a levy are changes in tax class rates (residential, agricultural, commercial, seasonal, etc), credits given at the state, valuation changes if a property value goes up or down, and state shifts to local government.

"As valuations go up, the local levy goes up and the state aid portion goes down," Leinen said.

In 2001, the Bemidji School District levied $10.6 million. That dropped to about $4.5 million in 2002.

"There was a significant change in how the state funded education," Leinen said. "Prior to that time there was a statewide property tax that funded education. That tax was reduced to zero and the state took on the responsibility of funding education through general fund dollars."

Over the course of the next two years, the levy grew slightly. In 2004, the school district approved the operating levy for the first time. Since that time, the levy has grown from about $6.5 million up to $9 million.

"That growth is largely due to that aid and levy mix," Leinen said.

The school district currently has levy authority of approximately $9.5 million. For 2011-12, the district approved a levy amount of $8.9 million, a .11 percent, or $9,528, decrease.

This is consistent with the historical practice of under levying in the area of Health and Safety in order to help offset for operating referendum.

The general fund has decreased by about $349,230.

"Values are now declining so you are seeing decrease in local levy and state aid will pick up the balance of that," Leinen said.

The school district's debt service levy is up by $330,540. This is a normal fluctuation, Leinen said.

School boards are required to levy 105 percent, Leinen said, which means the district ends up with extra dollars, causing a fluctuation in the following year's levy.

"If the board were to take advantage of all the dollars, as far as the levy, the board would have another $585,903.46," said Superintendent Jim Hess. "We have traditionally under levied because of the operating referendum that the voters passed. It's important to note there are thousands of dollars that the board is not going to take advantage of through this commitment and long-term agreement with the tax payers in our school district."

Levy overview:

- General fund: $4,361, 760

- Community Ed: $360,382

- Debt Service: $4,274,894

- Total levy: $8,997,036

- Decrease from 2010: $9,527

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