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Colfax school board sets tax levy of nearly $2.8 million — $92,000 less than last year

By LeAnn R. Ralph

COLFAX — The Colfax Board of Education has approved a combined tax levy of $2,781,921 for the 2017-2018 budget.

“This will levy to the limit,” said Bill Yingst, district administrator, at the Colfax Board of Education’s October 23 meeting.

“Levy to the limit” refers to the state-imposed revenue limits put into place 24 years ago in 1993.

The levy for the 2017-2018 budget compares to a levy of $2,874,162 set by the school board in October of 2016 for the 2016-2017 budget, representing a decrease of $92,241.

The mill rate for the tax levy will be $8.41 per $1,000 of property value, which compares to a mill rate last year of $8.87 per $1,000 of property value.

The equalized value for the school district certified on October 1 is $334,764,479, which includes the Tax Increment Finance Districts in the school district.

The equalized value without the TIF districts is $330,704,479, which compares to an equalized value for last year of $324,161,103, representing an increase of $6.5 million.

When the equalized value increases, the mill rate decreases.

The equalized value in the school district has been increasing for the last four or five years, Yingst said.

The Colfax school district includes part or all of the Towns of Cooks Valley, Howard, Colfax, Elk Mound, Grant, Hay River, Otter Creek, Red Cedar, Sand Creek, Tainter and Wilson along with the Village of Colfax.

The levy includes $286,338 for referendum-approved debt service and $251,293 in non-referendum debt service, which includes amounts for energy efficiency projects, a land purchase, and the school district’s unfunded pension liability.

Total revenue in the budget for 2017-2018 is $8,596,488.

Total expenditures in the budget for 2017-2018 are $8,577,909.

According to a history of the mill rates in the school district dating back to 1986, the mill rate has hovered in the $8 to $9 range per $1,000 of property value from 2009-2010 to 2016-2017.

The highest mill rate since 1986 was $18.89 per $1,000 of property value in 1990-1991.

The lowest mill rate was $6.38 in 2004-2005.

The lowest property tax levy amount since 1986 was $1.25 million in 1996-1997, with a mill rate of $13.10.

The levy in 1986 was $1.45 million, with a mill rate of $16.79.

From 2009-2010 to 2012-2013, the property tax levy has stayed in the $2.5 million range.

Third Friday

The Colfax school board also reviewed the Third Friday in September pupil count at the October 23 meeting.

The total number of students in the school district is 848.

Preschool special education has seven students, while four-year-old kindergarten has 45 students, and five-year-old kindergarten has 59 students.

Grades 1 through 12 in the Colfax school district have 737 students.

The school board also learned attendance for this year’s summer school at Colfax, counting the resident pupil minutes from summer school, was the equivalent of 15 full-time students attending Colfax for the whole year.

Last year, summer school had the equivalent of 18 full-time year-around students, Yingst said.

The summer school number fluctuates from year to year depending upon the programming available and the participation rate, he said.

Open enrollment

Open enrollment is “upside down” this year over last year, Yingst said.

This year, Colfax has 67 students open enrolling into the district and 79 students open enrolling out, he said.

The difference of 12 more students out of the district than those coming into the district is the opposite of the situation last year when more students enrolled in than the number enrolling out, Yingst said.

“Usually we’re at the break even point,” he said, noting that most years, Colfax has only two or three more students either in or out of the district.

The majority of the students who open enroll out have never attended school at Colfax. Their parents often have built a house on the edge of the school district, and from day one, those students go to school somewhere other than Colfax, he said.

Colfax will be paying out $573,166 for students open enrolling out of the district and will be receiving $464,820 for those students enrolling in, representing a loss for the school district of $108,346.

Other business

In other business, the Colfax Board of Education:

• Approved hiring Savannah York as a teacher’s aide. York most recently worked as an office assistant and bookkeeper at the Colfax Dental Wellness Clinic.

• Approved one youth option application for the spring of 2018.  

• Reviewed a policy pertaining to student activity funds. Under the policy all student clubs, organizations and classes can establish an account in the student activity fund. Student organizations and clubs covered by the policy include those with an adult advisor appointed by the building principal and have student officers and a specific student-related purpose or mission. Student activity balances will be carried over from one school year to the next. Any balance remaining after one year for a class that has graduated will be transferred to the Student Assistance Account. If an account has no transactions for two years, it will be considered inactive and will be closed by the superintendent or a designee.