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By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — The Colfax Board of Education has approved a property tax levy of $3,345,616 for 2021-2022, representing an increase of $210,062 over last year’s tax levy.
The mill rate on the tax levy will be $7.98 per $1,000 of property value, which is the same mill rate as last year, said William C. Yingst Jr., district administrator, at the Colfax school board’s October 25 meeting.
The state average for school district mill rates is $10 per $1,000 of property value, he noted.
The Board of Education meeting was held one week later than the board’s regular meeting date because of the state’s October 15 date for certifying the amount of state aid school districts will receive, Yingst said.
The school board must set the property tax levy by November 1, but the date sometimes fluctuates for certifying the state aid so that if the school board had met a week earlier, the school district might not have had the state aid numbers yet, he said.
This is the state’s first year of a biennial budget, and the money devoted to public education is “flat-lined,” Yingst said.
The Colfax school district tries to keep the mill rate consistent so the taxpayers will know what to expect and will not be surprised, he said.
Most of the municipalities in the school district have experienced an increase in property valuation, Yingst said.
A rule of thumb is when the property values increase, the mill rate goes down.
Keeping the mill rate steady when property values have increased will allow the Colfax school district to pay down debt faster, which will also benefit the taxpayers, Yingst said.
Here are the property values in the Colfax school district. Some municipalities are only partially in the Colfax school district, so the numbers pertain the property in the school district and not the entire municipality:
• Town of Cooks Valley — $9.25 million, representing a decrease of $4.5 million.
• Town of Howard — $42 million, representing a decrease of $1.3 million.
• Town of Colfax — $100.3 million, representing an increase of $8.4 million.
• Town of Elk Mound — $5.1 million, representing an increase of $190,309.
• Town of Grant — $48.1 million, representing an increase of $3.7 million.
• Town of Hay River — $327,202, representing an increase of $61,818.
• Town of Otter Creek — $48.22 million, representing an increase of $5.9 million.
• Town of Red Cedar — $7.8 million, representing an increase of $596,102.
• Town of Sand Creek — $14.9 million, representing an increase of $2.1 million.
• Town of Tainter — $62.5 million, representing an increase of $4.8 million.
• Town of Wilson — $23.8 million, representing an increase of $2 million.
• Village of Colfax — $56.7 million, representing an increase of $4.5 million.
The total property value in the Colfax school district is $419.2 million, representing an increase of $26.3 million.
The Town of Howard and the Town of Cooks Valley were the only two municipalities that experienced a decrease in property value.
Yingst said he did not know why Howard and Cooks Valley had lost property value but speculated the decrease was due to the frac sand mines closing down.
The Colfax Board of Education also approved updated budget numbers for the 2021-2022 school year.
There are not many businesses that figure out their budgets a quarter of the way through the year, Yingst noted.
The numbers were updated from the budget presented at the annual meeting in July, he said.
The updated budget includes total revenue of $9,446,259 and total expenditures of $9,443,919.
The revenue includes state aid of $6,334,949 and federal aid of $269,609.
Expenditures include $30,000 for Fund 21, which used to include a whole list of separate accounts but now contains a variety of funds, such as class funds, scholarship money, donations and the student activity account.
Debt service expenditure for Fund 38, non-referendum debt service, is listed as $263,230.
Debt service expenditure for Fund 39, referendum debt service, is listed as $384,062.
Expenditures for the capital improvements out of Fund 46 is listed as $150,000.
Expenditures for food service, Fund 50, is listed as $490,694.
The expenditures for instruction will be $4,578,584, while the expenditures for support services will be $3,198,128, and the expenditures for non-program transactions will be $1,667,206.