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Pine River-Backus School District levy approved at 9.3% decrease from 2022

District's maximum levy was still a decrease from the past year

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Echo Journal file photo
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PINE RIVER — The Pine River-Backus School Board approved the final tax levy for 2023, showing a decrease from this year’s levy, during their Monday, Dec. 5, regular meeting.

The board approved a levy of $1,713,745.60, or a 9.3% ($176,828) decrease from $1,890,574 in 2022.

The approved amount is the district's maximum possible levy, as approved in September as the preliminary levy.

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The biggest reductions were in local optional revenue (an amount calculated based on property values and enrollment), reemployment (based on unemployment costs) and long term facilities maintenance (also based on enrollment and property values).

"The COVID years hit us hard," said business manager Jolene Bengtson.

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The COVID-19 pandemic had an impact on the district's budget in several ways, including enrollment and unemployment.

The state delayed payments for unemployment during the pandemic. In addition, unanticipated reductions in enrollment and property values during prior years require the district to "true up" numbers to make up for the difference between the levy during the pandemic based on projections, versus the actual numbers.

The result was a decrease in $124,046 in local optional revenue, $19,549 in reemployment and $37,873 in long term facilities maintenance. This accounts for a $181,468 decrease to the final certified levy.

The district did have some smaller increases that accounted for the slightly smaller decrease in the overall levy, including a $3,690 increase in community service; however, the local optional revenue, reemployment and long term facilities maintenance adjustments represent the lion's share of changes to the equation.

The levy was approved unanimously.

The school board also accepted the retirement of Mary Sigan, school counselor, effective June 30; and the resignation of paraprofessional Tammy Moon.

Travis Grimler is a staff writer for the Pineandlakes Echo Journal weekly newspaper in Pequot Lakes/Pine River. He may be reached at 218-855-5853 or travis.grimler@pineandlakes.com.

Travis Grimler began work at the Echo Journal Jan. 2 of 2013 while the publication was still split in two as the Pine River Journal and Lake Country Echo. He is a full time reporter/photographer/videographer for the paper and operates primarily out of the northern stretch of the coverage area (Hackensack to Jenkins).
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