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Frazee School passes nearly 4 percent tax levy for next year

The Frazee Vergas School Board approved a 3.85 percent property tax levy increase for 2012.

At Monday night's board meeting, the district held a truth in taxation meeting, with Superintendent Chuck Cheney explaining changes in the 2011-12 budget and what the need for a levy will cover. He also handed out information on the state's Homestead Tax Credit, which the state has done away with now.

Changes came in at a budget increase from $2.2 million in 2010-11 to $2.3 million in 2011-12, with a total increase of $85,700.

The general fund increased only .24 percent from year to year, and the community service fund -- which includes basic community education, early childhood and family education and home visits -- increased 3.23 percent.

The debt service levy made the largest jump: 10.47 percent.

Cheney explained that impact on levies came from the state government, school district officials, property values and student enrollment.

Property taxes continue to increase, he said, because market values are increasing and more burden is falling on the local taxpayer, and special education is losing footing at the state level and therefore asking for increases for funding locally.

And though home values may be increasing, commercial values aren't as quickly, so the tax burden shifts to the more rural areas.

And then of course the change in the state's homestead credit was supposed to protect the lower-valued homes, but instead has caused most property taxes to increase.

While the homestead market value credit, special education aid and general education aid are all typical changes in the budget, some money was made up with some other changes in the district.

The salary of the superintendent position was lowered $44,500 -- along with other benefit savings -- and the operating capital was lowered $200,000 for a savings to the district of $257,300.

"Some significant changes have occurred since the school board approved the 2011-12 budget," Cheney said in his memo to the school board. "The net effect will be increased revenues and reduced expenditures, resulting in reduced deficit spending."