BY GABE LICHT
DELANO, MN Following no public comments during the Truth in Taxation hearing, the Delano School Board approved the district’s 2018 tax levy at $9,868,427, an increase of $503,067, or 5.37 percent.
Long-term facility maintenance accounts for $360,304 of that increase.
The local optional tax levy is increasing $94,667 due to an increase in students, Business Manager Mary Reeder said.
Similarly, the referendum portion of voter-approved tax levies will increase by $25,344 due to an increase in students. Overall, debt service will decrease by $133,093.
In 2017, the voter-approved operating levy was $674.01 per student. It will be $655.10 per student in 2018.
“The difference is, in 2007, we had an operating referendum that has expired on this upcoming levy,” Reeder said. “The difference between last year and what we were able to do this year was about $31. We moved a portion of that to board-approved (operating levy). The balance of that has expired, and is no longer available to be authorized. The state average is $927 per student.”
Community service is set to increase from $192,684 to $297,389, with the largest increase of $50,880 coming in the area of school-age childcare.
The fund balance in the general fund increased by $1,709,051 in 2017, from $6,937,337 in 2016, because the middle school and high school underspent to carry over funds to cover transition costs related to school campus improvements.
The unassigned fund balance has increased $1,206,474, from $4,459,579 to $5,666,053, Reeder said, due to higher than expected special education revenue, increased general aid, additional students, and lower than expected expenditures.
The fund balance in the general fund is expected to decrease from $8,646,388 to $8,063,879 in 2018, due to long-term facility maintenance projects such as a new roof and dishwasher, Reeder said.
The board approved the levy without further discussion.
Odds and ends
In other business, the board:
• heard from patron Kevin Koehler regarding community members’ use of district athletic facilities, especially new facilities.
“Right now, there’s less access for the public, whether it be students or community members,” Koehler said.
Chair Amy Johnson thanked Koehler for his comments and said there is a task force currently working on procedures regarding public use of athletic facilities, with a goal of finalizing such procedures before the spring sports season.
• learned that district staff members raised $12,450 for the Delano Loretto Area United Way, surpassing a goal of $11,000, and making the district the community’s highest contributor.
• approved a memorandum of agreement with Delano Custodian and Maintenance Employees, allowing the hiring of a part-time custodian to work Tuesday through Sunday, as school facilities are commonly used every day of the week.
• set the January organizational meeting for 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 8, in the high school media center.
• approved the Delano Middle School field trip to Long Lake Conservation Center.
• approved a wage change from $7.75 per hour to $7.87 per hour for community education employees between the ages of 16 and 18, beginning Jan. 1, 2018, pursuant to state law.