School levy climbs 6.96 percent

Michelle Czech, the Princeton School District’s director of business services, looks over some data on her laptop computer during the school district’s Truth in Taxation meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 19. The school board approved a levy increase of 6.96 percent.

Michelle Czech, the Princeton School District’s director of business services, looks over some data on her laptop computer during the school district’s Truth in Taxation meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 19. The school board approved a levy increase of 6.96 percent.

Taxpayers in the Princeton School District will see a nearly seven percent increase in the school portion of their property taxes in 2013.

That’s down from the nearly 11 percent increase initially proposed to the school board earlier this year. Taxpayers of the school district saw a 2.35 percent decrease in the school portion of their property taxes last year.

The Princeton Board of Education approved a $5.07 million tax levy at its Tuesday, Dec. 18 meeting. The vote came after the district’s annual truth in taxation hearing. The levy is up $329,823 from the $4.74 million tax levy approved last year.

The increase is coming because of the equivalent of a balloon payment on a bond issued to the school district in 2009, said Michelle Czech, director of business services for the Princeton School District.

The district will see a $400,000 hit on a bond taken out in 2009 to finish projects at the high school.

“What we have is like an adjustable rate mortgage on a home loan,” Superintendent Rick Lahn said.

“It’s a one-time blip. We won’t see a spike like this again,” Czech said.

The school district has set a $29.5 million budget for the general fund during 2012-13 school year. Property taxes will fund $2.16 million of that budget, or about eight percent, Czech said during the truth in taxation hearing. The state of Minnesota will fund the majority of the budget, Czech said.

The general fund is comprised of monies used for the day-to-day operations of the school district, Czech explained.

The largest portion of the district’s general fund expenditures goes to teacher wages and benefits. Under the current budget, regular instruction costs make up 47 percent of the general fund expenditures, Czech said. That’s down from 48.52 percent a year ago.

Very little of the district’s general fund expenses go towards district and school administration. In 2012-13, that will be four percent of the budget, she said.

Czech gave a breakdown on how the school taxes are spent. About 50.5 percent of taxpayer dollars are spent on debt service and 44.8 percent of taxpayer dollars go towards the general fund. Community education, at 4.7 percent, takes up the remainder of the taxpayer dollar pie, she said. In the resolution approved by the school board, $2.65 million was levied for debt service, $2.17 million was levied for the general fund and $248,563 was levied for community education for a total of $5.069 million.

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