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Frazee school tax levy drops 10%

The levy for the Frazee-Vergas School District will drop by about 10 percent next year, or $247,000.

But that doesn't always mean indivual taxes will down --that depends on valuation and other factors.

At Monday night's school board meeting, Superintendent Deron Stender gave the annual truth in taxation presentation, showing the public the budget for next school year and where money from the levies is going.

He talked about the state legislature's control over the levying system, and the history of the district's levies.

The operating levy that voters passed in 2007 is the one of the only levies voters have control over; most of the other levies are under school board (and state) control.

A little bit of history: In 2001, then Gov. Jesse Ventura reformed the property tax system and eliminated the general education levy, freeing up $880 million in property tax relief.

"That held true about that first year," Stender said. "It's something they really haven't kept their promise on."

In 2007, a new formula was put together to figure out the cost it takes to educate a student. Kindergarteners are a certain amount, a small amount, and that increases for high school students.

Look at it this way: Little kids play with color crayons and cheaper supplies. The teenage students play with much more expensive supplies like sewing machines, stoves and saws.

As for the budget outlook, the 2010-11 district budget is a questionable one as always.

"I'm the weatherman today," Stender said. "I'm forecasting what will happen."

In the general fund, revenue is estimated at nearly $7.7 million, and expenditures are estimated at $7.4 million, a difference of about $246,000. Stender said the figures are based on stimulus money, and that next year will look different again.

The breakdown includes $435,000 for food service, $200,000 for community education and $1 million for debt service in the revenue column.

For expenditures, it will be $436,000 for food service, $192,000 for community education (which includes ECFE) and $1.1 million for debt service.

"This is today," Stender said. "Things change drastically. We know there is talk of reducing the state formula."

It's because of the levy, he said, that programs like community education and early childhood and family education exist.

"Without levy authority, we wouldn't be able to operate and provide quality education."

He said the district will continue to be conservative with its spending because of the uncertain future of state funding.