SLP Schools tax levy jumps 10 percent

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 Spring Lake Park School District set the 2017 property tax levy 10 percent higher than it did ahead of 2016, in large part because of the bond referendum that voters approved in April.

The board unanimously approved a $22.3 million levy Dec. 13. Board Chairperson John Stroebel was absent for the vote.

Without the referendum, the levy increase would have only been 1.6 percent, according to Amy Schultz, director of business services for the district.

The $49.9 million bond referendum will allow the district to acquire land and build a new elementary school; add classrooms at the high school; build early learning space; and renovate space for science, technology, engineering and mathematics learning across the district.

The new school will open for the 2018-2019 school year, and an addition of science classrooms at the high school is expected to conclude a year earlier. Other high school remodeling projects will continue through 2019.

Early learning space will go up as part of the new elementary school, but an early learning southern hub has not yet been determined. A decision will likely be made before the end of February 2017, according to Superintendent Jeff Ronneberg.

To offset increases to the 2017 tax levy, the School Board opted to under-levy for the second year in a row.

Spring Lake Park Schools will collect a total of $957,087 less than state formulas allow in three levy categories: lease levy, long-term facilities maintenance and re-employment.

“We are financially healthy right now,” Schultz said, adding that the district believes it can get all necessary work done without that additional funding.

Schultz said that the district pored over each levy category to see where it could make cuts without jeopardizing state aid.

“We wanted to make sure we kept as much state aid as possible,” she said.

Because the School Board set the preliminary 2017 levy at the maximum in September, preliminary tax statements mailed by Anoka County in November will incorrectly reflect actual school district taxes.

“The actual amount will be lower,” Schultz said.

The average homeowner in the district, someone with a home valued at $200,000, will pay approximately $1,050 in taxes in 2017, according to Schultz.

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