by Nan Royce
DASSEL, COKATO, MN The Dassel Cokato School Board held its Truth in Taxation Public Hearing at its regular meeting Monday evening.
The payable 2018 levy total is $2,806,446, or 11.96 percent of the $23,466,091 of total revenue.
The district levy is an increase of $137,872, or 5.17 percent compared to last year.
How’d they figure that?
District Business Manager Tina Palmer began her PowerPoint presentation by highlighting the seven key steps that impact the taxes on a parcel of property, noting the school district has control over only one of these steps.
• Step one - the county assessor determines the estimated market value for each parcel of property in the county.
• Step two - the legislature sets the formula for tax capacity. The formula determines how much of the tax burden will fall on different types of property.
• Step three - the county auditor calculates the tax capacity for each parcel of property in the county, as well as the total tax capacity for each school district.
• Step four - the legislature sets the formulas which determine school district levy limits.
• Step five - the Minnesota Department of Education calculates detailed levy limits for each school district based on the formulas approved by the legislature.
• Step six -The school board adopts a proposed levy in September, based on limits set up in step five.
• Step seven - the county auditor divides the final levy by the district’s total tax capacity to determine the tax rate needed to raise the proper levy amount. The auditor then multiplies this tax rate by each property’s tax capacity to determine the school tax for that property.
Dassel-Cokato’s current school year budget
Palmer noted the district’s budget had been published, as required by law, in the Nov. 17 issue of the Enterprise Dispatch, and was also available on the district website.
An overview of 2017 and 2018 revenue budgets showed a slight variance. The 2016 to 2017 total of actual revenues is $26,182,871. Comparatively, the 2017 to 2018 budget total is calculated at $26,055,968, or a change over the previous year of -0.48 percent.
District 2016 to 2017 actual expenditures totaled $25,708,247. The 2017 to 2018 district expenditure budget totals $26,711,847, or an increase of 3.90 percent over the previous year.
Fund balance dropping
Palmer showed a bar graph which pictured how relatively small decreases in revenue and slightly larger increases in expenditures impact the district’s fund balance over time.
Two members of the public were present for the hearing, but neither had any questions or comments.
Multi-purpose (formerly DCRISC) building ideas
Later in the meeting, Board members discussed how to best move ahead with the multi-purpose building, gifted to the district.
The board reviewed numbers collected from other districts making use of multi-purpose buildings or ice arenas. The numbers presented were so wide-ranging, that board member Bill Aho commented, “It’s hard to get apples-to-apples with these numbers.”
Superintendent Jeff Powers agreed, and stated, “We need to do a lot more homework yet to get to anything meaningful.”
Board members were concerned that the research process for the multipurpose building would conflict with the Minnesota School Board Association’s study set to commence in January.
Board Chair Rebecca Clemen suggested that part of the purpose of the MSBA study was to survey the direction the district needs to go with such projects.
Board Member Chuck Nelson agreed. “I feel like there’s a lot of homework to be done,” he said. “We need to keep moving forward. A community member can’t say they’re ‘for’ or ‘against’ when there’s no data.”
Finally, board members agreed to task district activities director Perry Thinesen with contacting the activities director in Litchfield to talk in depth about potential revenues and expenses of an ice arena.