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By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — Review of the proposed budget for the 2021-2022 school year of $9.48 million in expenditures was part of the business at the Colfax school district’s annual meeting on August 16.
About a dozen people attended the annual meeting.
The expenditure budget represents an increase of $28,000 over the 2020-2021 budget and an increase of $132,000 over the 2019-2020 school year budget.
Revenue for the proposed 2021-2022 budget is $9.49 million, representing a $236,000 decrease over the 2020-2021 budget and a $33,000 increase over the 2019-2020 school year budget.
The projected tax levy for the 2021-2022 budget is $2.98 million, representing a $155,000 decrease over the levy for the 2020-2021 budget and a $3,600 increase over the 2019-2020 budget.
The estimated mill rate is $7.59 per $1,000 of property value, which compares to a mill rate of $7.98 for the previous two years and to $7.99 in 2018-2019.
State funding for K-12 is “flatlined,” and surplus money has not been put toward K-12, said William Yingst Jr, district administrator.
“We are not seeing any new dollars for K-12,” he said.
The numbers for the 2021-2022 budget are estimated until the school district is notified of what the equalized aid will be on October 15, Yingst said.
The numbers received on what is known as “tax levy day” are official and will allow the school board to set the tax levy before the last week in October, he said.
The school district is projecting about $250,000 less in revenue because of federal funds distributed to the school district last year due to the pandemic, Yingst said.
Federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds (ESSR) were part of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
The capital improvement fund, Fund 46, had a balance of $953,781.12 as of June 30, but the fund will decrease by about $300,000 for summer projects, Yingst said.
Summer projects include work on the parking lot on the west side of the school building by the elementary school, replacement of some concrete and replacement of breaker boxes, he said.
The breaker boxes were installed in 1963, and breakers are no longer available for them, Yingst noted.
Fund 50, the food service fund, had a balance of $238,528.22 as of June 30, he said.
All students will receive free meals during the school year as a result of action by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Yingst said.
The school district had planned to remodel the middle school/high school cafeteria this summer, but because of supply chain problems in the construction industry, remodeling the cafeteria will take place in 2022, he said.
Any expenditures out of the food service fund must be tied in some way to food service, Yingst noted.
The Fund 10, general fund, balance as of June 30 was $1,862,759.14.
Fund 21, the special revenue fund, had a balance of $237,455.42 as of June 30.
Fund 21, which used to include a whole list of separate accounts, contains a variety of funds, such as class funds, scholarship money, donations and the student activity account, Yingst said.
Fund 38, non-referendum debt service, had a balance as of June 30 of $42,222.75.
Fund 39, referendum debt service, as of June 30, had a balance of $359,635.97.
For 2021, the Colfax school district had a total equalized value of $392.84 million.
The equalized values used to apportion school tax levies are as follows:
• Village of Colfax — $52.23 million.
• Town of Cooks Valley — $13.72 million.
• Town of Howard — $43.37 million.
• Town of Colfax — $91.9 million.
• Town of Elk Mound — $4.9 million.
• Town of Grant — $44.38 million.
• Town of Hay River — $265,384.
• Town of Otter Creek — $42.34 million.
• Town of Red Cedar — $7.2 million.
• Town of Sand Creek — $12.88 million.
• Town of Tainter — $57.78 million.
• Town of Wilson — $21.79 million.
In 2013, the school district borrowed $696,000 at 2.75 percent interest and $1 million at zero interest as part of a state program to complete energy efficiency projects for which the school district receives state aid.
The loans will be paid off in 2023.
The school district has done many energy efficiency projects, and the energy savings will be forever, Yingst said.
The state has since discontinued the program, he noted.
The school district’s unfunded liability for retirement benefits will be paid off in 2024.
Also known as “Other Post-Employment Benefits” (OPEB), unfunded liability can include any retirement benefit offered to workers, except for pensions.
In the late 1980s, the state assessed a flat amount to all school districts for the unfunded liability, Yingst said.
The current interest rate on the unfunded liability is 3.95 percent, which is “way below where it was,” he said.
When the unfunded liability is finally paid off, that will free up $61,000 per year in the school district’s budget, Yingst said.
At every annual meeting, electors approve a number of resolutions that allow the school district to continue functioning.
Here are the resolutions that were approved:
• To provide for the prosecution or defense of any action or proceeding in which the school district is interested.
• To furnish hot lunches to any and all pupils in the school district at such a cost that is set by the school board and to pay any deficiency which results from the lunch program from the general fund.
• To sell any and all personal property belonging to the school district that is no longer used and not needed by the school district for school purposes and to sell the property by private sale or by auction sale for whatever price and terms the school board feels is reasonable and proper. Any items put up for sale, whether private or public sale, will be listed in the local normal posting venues and on social media.
• To pay the following salaries: all school board members $95 per meeting; school board president and school board clerk, $1,050 per year; school board directors, $700 per year. Mileage will be paid for attending meetings within the district, and if travel is required outside of the district on school district business, at the Internal Revenue Service mileage rate plus actual and necessary additional expenses. The salary of the school board members will be for the period of one year starting April 30, 2022. Each school board member also will receive $200 per day, less payroll taxes, for attending the state school board convention.
• To levy a tax of $2,980,767 with the understanding that adjustments will be made in October following the September student count and not to exceed the state allowable amount.
• To borrow money, as needed, to meet the immediate expenses of operating and maintaining the public instruction during the current year until the 2021-2022 annual meeting.
• To move the October school board meeting to the fourth Monday of the month due to the October 15 equalized aid release date and for setting the tax levy proposed; the February school board meeting to be changed to the second Monday of the month; the April school board meeting to be changed to the fourth Monday of the month in order to align with the state statute to install newly elected board members; the July school board meeting to be changed to the second Monday of the month; continue with the annual school district meeting on the third Monday in August; and to change all board meeting start times to 6 p.m.
• To exceed the revenue limit on a non-recurring basis by an amount the district will spend on new energy efficiency measures and renewable energy projects for the 2021-2022 school year. The amount to be levied and expended is $179,569. The school board has identified the following required performance indicators that will measure the energy savings and or energy cost avoidance in an amount equal to the exemption request: propane bus upgrades with infrastructure; upgrade unit ventilators in the elementary school; upgrade pneumatics to DDC in the elementary school; install VFDs on HW pumps and AHU-1; roofing upgrades; building envelope; indoor lighting upgrades; and IT upgrades, including wireless/infrastructure, data center and unified communication/emergency notification.