Following a presentation, the North Branch School Board certified a 1.38% property tax levy increase for 2022 over last year.

During the North Branch School Board meeting Dec. 9, Director of Finance and Human Resources Todd Tetzlaff presented the annual Truth-in-Taxation information. Following his presentation, he opened up the meeting for public comment, but there wasn’t any public comment.

Tetzlaff explained the school board authority to levy comes from the Legislature and local voters. He said the funding formula is established by the Legislature, and formula changes impact levy amounts. Other factors that impact the levy include city or township taxes, county taxes and changes to property valuation.

The total property tax levy for 2022 is set at $9.5 million and is composed of the general fund, $3.6 million; community education fund, $232,888; general debt service, $5.3 million; and other post-employment benefits debt service, $371,021. The 2022 property tax levy is set to increase by $129,732 (1.38%) over the 2021 property tax levy.

Tetzlaff explained the 2020-2021 general fund revenue is at $32.3 million while the general fund expenditures is at $30.7 million. The district’s general fund unassigned fund balance is at $3.1 million.

“Our fund balance puts us on the low end of the school board’s established fund balance policy of between 10 and 15 percent and it represents about five or six weeks of operating expenses,” Tetzlaff said. “The fund balance does represent an improved position when compared to three years ago when we had a very low fund balance and minimizes the need for cash flow borrowing and the expenses that we would incur if we had to cash flow borrow to cover our expenses. So we’re in a better position financially when we don’t have to cash flow borrow.”

The largest expenditures for the school district include salaries and benefits, $23.3 million; purchased services (food service workers, transportation staff, St. Croix River Education District employees who work with the district), $8.9 million; debt service, $5.3 million; and capital expenditures, $5.2 million.

“Education is a labor-intensive process, so we need people to educate our kids, so salaries and benefits are the largest portion of our expenditures,” Tetzlaff said.

As for employees of the district (not including the contracted staff of food service workers, transportation staff and St. Croix River Education District employees who work with the district), the district has 161 teachers, 13 administrators/supervisors, 26 12-month support staff employees, 93 nine-month support staff employees and 18 custodian staff for a total of 311 employees.

Tetzlaff noted the district added seven teachers this year as well as one 12-month support staff employee and six nine-month support staff employees.

“So we have more staff that we need because enrollment is actually on an upward trend, and so that’s a good place for us to be,” Tetzlaff. “We are a major employer in the area.”

School board member resignation

The board accepted the resignation of school board member Tanya Giese that became effective on Dec. 10. Giese resigned because she has accepted full-time employment as the activities administrative assistant at North Branch High School.

“I have enjoyed my short time serving and working with all of you on the school board,” Giese wrote in her resignation letter. “I look forward to my new role with the school district and working with you in a different capacity.”

The board will accept applications to fill Giese’s position through Jan. 26 and will conduct interviews with the candidates on Jan. 27. The board will name a finalist at the Feb. 10 meeting and will swear the candidate into office on March 10. The new board member will serve until January 2023.

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