Monticello School Board sets slightly higher 2014 preliminary levy

A slew of legislative changes from last session have left the Monticello school district with more unknowns than usual while setting their preliminary levy for the next fiscal year.
The district is currently looking for a slight increase in the 2013 levy, from $10,773,434 to $10,800,655 this year for a difference of $27,221.
The 2013 levy is payable in 2014. Legislative changes have led to informational processing delays at the state level, explained Tina Burkholder, the district’s business manager.
She said earlier this week that the district’s levy amount had changed twice in the past few days as more information and finalized numbers are coming their way from Minnesota Department of Education.
“In fairness, they are very short-staffed,” Burkholder said of the state education department.
The levy number could change again, Burkholder said, because the lone person working to approve school districts’ proposed health and safety projects has not yet reviewed Monticello’s requests for the next fiscal year.
If all the district’s proposed projects are approved the levy would go up another $159,600. Burkholder said this increase would take place despite a 9.8 percent drop in the general fund levy over last year.
The main reason for the increase, she said, is because the debt service levy has increased by 8.25 percent over last year.
The debt service levy is facing a large increase of almost $389,000 over 2012, and bond payments are increasing $117,889 from the prior year because of how their debt payments have been structured.
Burkholder said last year a large reduction in the excess fund balance brought the debt service levy down lower than usual; last year the levy was reduced by over $422,000 because of a larger surplus than usual.
Excess funds come into the debt service fund because the district, by law,
levies 105 percent of its debt obligations to cover for delinquent taxes.

For the complete story see this week’s print edition of the Monticello Times.