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Tiger Talk: School District Property Tax Levy reviewed

It’s that time of year again when Pine River-Backus Schools starts looking at its property tax levy. Being that proposed property tax statements will be sent out soon it’s a good idea to discuss the levy process.

School districts in Minnesota have a timeline to follow on certifying their property tax levies. During the summer data is input to the Department of Education’s website. At the September school board meeting the proposed levy amounts are certified. These amounts are sent to the Cass and Crow Wing County auditor’s offices for preparation of the proposed property tax statements and delivered to district taxpayers in November.

Upon final certification at the December school board meeting these amounts can decrease from proposed figures but cannot increase.

There are more than 30 levy categories, but not all districts qualify for all levies. A levy consists of three major components: General, Community Service and Debt Service.

The General Levy is where funding for most building and maintenance projects comes from with the Operating Capital, Deferred Maintenance and Health & Safety categories. The Referendum and Equity categories are where any operating levies – voter approved or board approved – are shown. The Safe Schools category pays for our district police liaison officer and drug detection dogs. The district has a number of courses partially funded through the Career and Technical category. The teachers must have special licensure and the programs must be state approved.

As part of the 2013 legislative process, the state of Minnesota implemented a “General Education Levy” to be applied to all districts in the state. This levy is a uniform tax rate of 0.35 percent applied to a district’s adjusted net tax capacity and is listed as the Student Achievement category.

The Community Service Levy covers 60 percent of funding for our Community Education programs. These programs include Community Education classes, drivers education, ECFE programs and youth sports.

The Debt Service Levy is where all of the district’s three outstanding bond obligations are paid. All principal and interest payments are made through the Debt Service Levy.

The truth in taxation presentation is Dec. 17. We will discuss the current year budget and property tax levy as well as invite the public to ask questions or voice comments.

We look forward to seeing you at 6 p.m. in the High School Media Center.