Spring Lake Park School Board passes maximum tax levy, likely a decrease

The Spring Lake Park District 16 School Board approved the 2014 preliminary tax levy at the maximum amount at a work session Sept. 24.

“Historically, I don’t know as a district that we’ve ever done anything but approve the maximum at this meeting,” said Amy Schultz, business director for the district during her presentation at the work session.

Last year, the 2013 levy was set at $20.2 million, a 4 percent increase from the 2012 levy.

Schultz anticipates that the 2014 levy will decrease by 1 percent, or around $200,000, to total an even $20 million.

She could not provide firm numbers to the board, as they continue to change, according to Schultz. In fact, the afternoon of the work session, she found two corrections to go over with the Minnesota Department of Education, so nothing is finalized, Schultz said.

“It’s kind of a moving target right now,” Superintendent Jeff Ronneberg said.

Changes in state legislation in May allow districts to move levy dollars – up to $424 for districts in the metro – from voter-approved to board-approved, Schultz said. Many schools will go out for referendum with little to no tax impact, but District 16 has opted to reduce taxes instead.

“We’re really passing along the savings,” Schultz said. “We’re continually looking at ways to keep our property taxes down.”

More state aid, available with revised equalization rates and formulas, and two refinanced leases allow the district to cut the levy, according to Schultz.

If state legislation had not changed, with increased enrollment, the levy would have been up nearly 2 percent, Schultz said in an interview after the work session.

Approving the maximum now allows for flexibility since the preliminary levy can be reduced, but not increased before it is finalized in December.

The county will mail out proposed property tax statements in mid-November.

The district’s Truth in Taxation hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m. Dec. 17 at the District Services Center. The school board plans to certify the final tax levy that same evening.

Olivia Koester is at [email protected]