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Austin Public School board approves to certify tax levy

The proposed operating levy and budget for the Austin Public Schools District was approved during Monday’s special board meeting.

Austin School Board members unanimously approved setting the proposed 2019  property tax levy at the maximum 16.01 percent increase for taxes payable for the 2020-21 fiscal year, with the projected revenue at $8,186,674.80 for the district. This was a $1,129,913 increase from the 2018-2019 property tax levy of 4.06 percent that brought in $7,056,761.36 in revenue.

From the proposed property tax levy, the general fund would see a 29.05 percent increase, community service funds would receive a 14.12 percent increase of $40,096.77, and general debt service saw a 1.73 percent decrease, or a decrease of $49,391.16.

While the percentage of the proposed levy increase seemed high, Director of Finance and Operations Lori Volz said that when breaking down the revenue sources that make up the district’s general fund budget, the levy only consists of  5.63 percent of the total revenue.

State aid comprised the majority of the revenue source at 82.29 percent, federal aid at 4.19 percent and other miscellaneous items at 7.89 percent. Volz noted that “the levy is a small portion of the overall fund.”

School district levies are different from county or city levies because their limits are dictated by state statute. Districts can choose to certify a specific dollar amount for their levies, but must not exceed the levy limit set by the Minnesota Department of Education and the levy amount can be decreased.

Officials also approved the Truth-in-Taxation hearing for Dec. 9, during their regularly scheduled board meeting for the public to make comments and let their opinions be known.