District 108 tax levy down 9.5 percent

Area residents will see a decrease in the school portion of their 2013 taxes after the Central School Board approved a reduced levy on Monday, Dec. 17.

The tax levy is down 9.5 percent from the 2012 levy, dropping by just over $238,000 to a total amount of $2,276,961.17.

Superintendent Brian Corlett informed the board that part of the reason for that decrease was that Community Education did not receive an adjustment that it received the year before, and that the school’s debt service levy decreased by about two percent.

“That’s good news for our local taxpayers,” he said.

Of various levies making up the total levy, Corlett also noted that 63 percent of the levy amount is voter-approved. That is up from 61 percent voter-approved last year. In all, voter-approved levies total $1,431,954.23.

“We’re very fortunate to have a supportive public,” said Corlett.

Notable levies within the total number include a $580,581.20 operating levy, which works out to roughly $500 per student. In 2011, Central’s operating levy of about $588 per student had a lower impact on local taxpayers than any area district with the exception of Sibley East ($458) and Glencoe-Silver Lake ($482).

The state average was $748, Jordan was at $707, Watertown-Mayer was at $929, Belle Plaine was at $940, and Waconia was at $962.

The total levy for Community Education, which is not voter-approved, was $123,739.83.

One resident was on hand during the Truth in Taxation portion of the meeting, but did not offer comment on the budget.

In other business, the board:
• Approved the submission of Review and Comment documents to the Minnesota Department of Education regarding the proposed elementary school expansion, and fielded a question from a resident about the tax impact if the project were to be approved.

Board members said that, should the project be approved, the average home in the district with a valuation of around $175,000 would see a tax increase of $21 per year.

For that money, the district would be able to stop leasing space and add a music room and large commons/meeting area in addition to other classrooms, and also redesign the parking lot to separate drop off areas for parents and busses.

• Erickson noted that an ACT preparatory course will be offered at the high school again this year. The three-month course was offered for the first time last winter, and Central students scored above the state average for the first time when test results were released.

“For our kids to perform at that level is something we need to acknowledge. Hopefully we’ll be able to maintain that,” said Erickson, adding that Minnesota is typically near the top of the nation in ACT test scores.

• Accepted a $1,044 donation from the MN Valley Electric Coop. for the FFA chapter and a $501 donation from the MN State High School League Foundation as a scholarship for student activity fees.

• Heard from athletic director Ron Erpenbach that Central will be hosting both a boys’ and girls’ basketball holiday tournament for the first time this year. A total of 16 teams (eight varsity, eight JV) will compete Dec. 28-29.

• Approved the 2011-12 audit as presented at the November meeting.

• Approved the declaration of the district’s 1994 Ford Club Wagon van as surplus property in order to attempt to sell the vehicle.

• Will hold its next meeting on Monday, Jan. 28 at the Cologne Community Center beginning at 6 p.m.