School bond referendum Aug. 12: Who will bear the burden?

Note: District 88 is seeking funds to build a new high school and remodel existing sites, with a bond referendum on Aug. 12. The following article is the fifth of five articles to address some questions about the referendum.

Q: What is the percentage of taxes collected by each class of property? How is it figured?

A: Residential homestead properties account for 34.3 percent of taxes collected. Non-homestead residential properties account for is 5.2 percent.

Agricultural properties account for is 40.7 percent.

Commercial and industrial properties make up 18.4 percent; seasonal properties 0.4 percent; and personal property makes up 1 percent.

The state sets the tax rates for different classifications of property. Each property has a different calculation to figure the net tax capacity for that property.

A residential homestead property has a rate of 1 percent up to $500,000. The rate changes to 1.25 percent of the taxable market value above $500,000.

Commercial/industry property has a rate of 1.5 percent up to $150,000, and the rate changes to 2 percent above $150,000.

Agriculture Classes 2a and 2b properties have two tax calculations.

The first calculation is for the house and one acre. That is 1 percent of the first $500,000 and moves up to 1.25 percent above $500,000.

The second calculation is for the ag land. Homestead value is 0.5 percent of the bare land and other buildings up to a taxable market value of $1.5 million. It moves to 1 percent above $1.5 million. Non-homestead agricultural land is figured at 1 percent of the taxable market value.

Q: Doesn’t the tax levy burden fall more heavily than it should on farm land?

A. The state of Minnesota determines how property taxes are to be levied, and the school district is required to follow the state’s regulations. Individual property tax bills are set according to the formulas listed in the previous question. It would take action by the Minnesota Legislature to change the tax system for the state.

Q: Assuming the district builds a new high school, does it have the money to operate it? Where would that money come from, and how would the bottom line balance out?

A: The district has reviewed the operational costs to run an additional school site, says Bertrang. This information, along with current fund balances, projected fund balances and projected enrollments show that it will be able to operate the new site, he says. The Minnesota Department of Education just completed a required review and comment process and sent the district a positive review, he adds.

“Our mission is to reconfigure the buildings for the programs proposed at each site, assign the proper staffing models to them, work with the support programs and contracts for services we have to make sure we are covering needs and are efficient with our resources. We will continue to align resources to programs and make adjustments for the new site,” says Bertrang.

Q: What does it cost to educate a student today?

A: In 2013, New Ulm spent approximately $10,266 per student to provide educational services for the entire school year. This includes the cost for instruction, administration, transportation, special education, career and technical programs, pupil support services, operation and maintenance of the facilities, activities/athletics, instructional support and capital expenditures. The state average cost in 2013 was $10,443.

Q: What is the number of students projected to be in the new high school?

A: The proposal is for a 9-12 high school. The new building is planned to accommodate 185 students per grade. There is room for expansion beyond this point. The current enrollment at the current high school has between 144-180 students per grade. The average of students per grade is 156.5.

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