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Paynesville Press - December 24, 2003

School district approves lower property tax levy for 2004

By Michael Jacobson

Property owners in the Paynesville Area School District will pay less for school taxes in 2004. Last week, the Paynesville Area School Board approved its property tax levy for 2004, which is down 10 percent from its 2003 levy. The school district's proposed property tax levy for 2004 is $1,259,405, down from $1,405,853 in 2003, a reduction of $146,448, or just over 10 percent.

The main reasons for the decline are a lower health and safety levy, changes in state aid for the district's excess levy, and the unallotment to Community Education and Early Childhood Family Education

. The district will levy $136,000 less for health and safety projects in 2004. These projects must be approved by the state as influencing health or safety in the schools.

In 2003, the district levied $174,500 for health and safety projects, including duct cleaning and a ventilation project in the high school basement. In 2004, the district has proposed levying only $48,800 for health and safety, a reduction of $125,700.

2004 school levy But, the district will also have to levy $39,800 for capital expenditures in 2004 in its general fund levy in order to get the full state aid. In previous years, the district just got state aid and did not have to levy. This increase, along with the health and safety reduction, should mean a net decrease in the general fund levy of just under $100,000 for 2004. (See Line A in chart)

The only change in the district's tax levy since it was proposed in October was an increase of $10,400 for health and safety spending.

For the district's excess levy, state aid covered $242,500 in 2003 while local taxes paid $277,500 (out of a total of $520,000 in 2003). In 2004, of the $507,700 excess levy (which is smaller due to fewer students in the local school district), $301,050 should be paid by state aid, and only $206,650 by local property taxes, a reduction to local taxpayers of nearly $71,000. (See Line B in the chart.)

The district will also need to levy $29,000 to get the full $72,000 in equity aid from the state. This used to be all state aid. (See Line C in the chart.)

The levy for Community Education in 2004 is down, too, due to the unallotments by the state. The state unalloted $30,000 for the local Community Education program and $10,000 for Early Childhood Family Education. It did this by forcing these local programs to use fund balances this year with a corresponding reduction in their property tax levy for 2004. (See Line D in the chart.)

Finally, the levy for debt service is up slightly due to higher payments on the district's bonds. (See Line E in the chart.)

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