The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

September 16, 2013

Mankato Schools preliminary levy shows decrease

Legislature changed funding formula to ease tax burden

MANKATO — The Mankato Area Public Schools preliminary tax summary for the 2014-15 school year shows a decrease of about 5.6 percent.

The projected levy amount is decreasing by about $977,500, from $17.43 million in the 2013-14 school year to $16.45 million in 2014-15. That would result in a 4.22 percent decrease to the general fund, from $11.17 million to $10.7 million, said Jerry Kolander, director of business affairs.

“That’s good news to the taxpayer,” said Kolander, who added that it’s too early to put a dollar amount on potential property-tax decreases.

Property-tax relief and funding “equalization” is what the state Legislature had in mind when changing some of its funding formulas during the past year, Kolander said. To ease the tax burden on property owners, the state lowered the levy amount and increased state aid (which is based on per-pupil funding) to make up the difference.

New funding for all-day, everyday kindergarten will also kick in for the 2014-15 school year. With an estimate of 650 kindergartners in the 2014-15 school year, Mankato would receive an additional $1.7 million in state funding for all-day kindergarten.

Student funding is weighted by grade level, but the overall increase is about 1.5 percent per pupil, Kolander said. The district will know in October when enrollment figures are tallied what the total funding increase will be.

Enrollment in Mankato schools has been on the rise for years and is projected to increase another 10 percent over the next five years. Per-pupil state funding makes up the largest portion of revenue in the budget.

In June, the preliminary budget showed state revenues of $62.5 million made up about 70.5 percent of all funds. Property tax levies made up $14.9 million or 16.8 percent. And the remaining $11.3 million, or 12.7 percent, came from other revenue sources.

Kolander said the levy projection is especially difficult this year because the Department of Education is still hashing out its own complicated calculations due to legislative changes.

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