Dist. 15 approves 3.7 percent levy increase for 2017

Staff Writer
Since 2013, I have primarily covered the Anoka-Hennepin and Spring Lake Park school districts as well as the city of Spring Lake Park for ABC Newspapers.

 

The St. Francis School Board Dec. 12 finalized the 2017 property tax levy without changes from the proposed levy it set in September.

Months ago, the board approved the maximum levy, which amounts to $11.74 million, a 3.67 percent increase from the 2016 levy of $11.32 million.

More than half of the anticipated 3.67 percent increase is attributed to St. Francis’ new partnership with Northeast Metro Intermediate School District 916, according to Scott Nelson, director of business services.

St. Francis is one of 14 member districts that utilizes 916 programming for special education services, among others.

“We send only the very, very highest-need, lowest-incidence kids to 916,” Superintendent Troy Ferguson said.

Intermediate school districts do not have levying authority, so their costs are borne by member districts.

“We knew that it would be an expense,” Ferguson said, but the costs are in all likelihood lower than they would be to run programming for the population of students with high-need, low-incidence disabilities independently, he added.

“It cuts down the costs immensely,” Nelson said.

St. Francis will collect approximately $220,000 for 916 in 2017 through capital lease and safe schools levy categories.

Another large levy increase can be attributed to growing long-term facilities and maintenance revenue, approved by the Legislature in 2015.

Funding will jump from $193 per pupil unit in fiscal year 2017 to $292 per pupil unit in fiscal year 2018, part of a plan to phase in long-term facilities revenue. A final jump to $380 per pupil unit is slated to occur in fiscal year 2019.

Collecting nearly $600,000 in additional long-term facilities maintenance revenue this year will help keep the district’s $100 million in buildings in good shape, Nelson said.

“This (money) is basically bringing our systems up to speed,” he said.

The board unanimously approved the 2017 property tax levy. Board Member Suzanne Erkel was absent for the vote.

The average home in the district has a taxable market value of $182,800, according to Jodie Raymond, property tax manager in Anoka County. The owner of such a home will owe an estimated $737 in school district property taxes in 2017.

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