Updated: 12/18/2013 2:00 PM
Created: 12/17/2013 9:54 PM WDIO.com
By: Travis Dill
The Duluth School Board voted for a property tax levy increase on Tuesday to prevent Red Plan debt services from pulling more money from the district's general fund.
The increase means the owner of a $150,000 home will pay $61.55 in new taxes with most of that increase coming from a voter-approved operational levy.
Bill Hanson, the district's business services director, said the sale of unused properties, like Central High School, were previously factored into the school's budget. That led to a reduction of the district's general fund when the properties never sold.
Documents Hanson presented at the school board meeting on Tuesday show the school's general fund was down to $1.9 million in June.
Hanson said paying the Red Plan debt from the general fund was no longer feasible so board members passed the property tax levy increase to make up for the unsold buildings. Hanson expects the levy increase to bring the general fund back up to $6.5 million by next June.
Board members passed the increase with almost no discussion on the resolution. Only member Art Johnston opposed the tax increase.
Hanson said paying the debt service means about $16 in new taxes for a home valued at $150,000. He said that could have been much higher if not for savings in employee benefits and other areas of the budget.
Still residents like John Stromgren opposed the tax increase. Stromgren said it could push retired residents to move out of Duluth.
“What happens when the money runs out from us citizens? Mayor Ness wonders why he can't increase the population of Duluth to 90,000 people. Why should the people of Duluth stick around when they can move to a warmer climate and pay less taxes?” Stromgren said.
Voters did pass a levy increase this fall to help reduce class sizes and pay for new curriculum.
On a home valued at $150,000, the voter-approved levy will increase taxes by about $45 a year. Adding that to the board-approved levy puts the total tax increase at just over $60 a year for a home valued at $150,000.
Volunteers Work to Revitalize Lester-Amity Chalet
Friends of the Lester-Amity Chalet (FLAC), a group trying to reopen and revitalize the Lester-Amity Chalet, had an open house at the building this weekend to encourage their project's progress.
1,000-foot Laker Freed After Being Stuck near Bayfront Park
A laker ran aground near Bayfront Park in Duluth. Right before 4 p.m., the 1,000-foot laker got stuck right near shore. The laker was finally freed, with the help of two tug boats, at around 7 p.m.
Judge Rejects Minn. Plan for Disability Reforms
A federal judge has rejected a state plan to reduce the segregation of people with disabilities, saying it was too vague and lacked measurable goals.
A Special Feat for a Very Special Athlete: Superior Man Earns Black Belt
Brandon Moe has been training in Karate Taekwondo since he was a little boy. Saturday, he went for his first degree black belt, a proud moment for his mother who said complications at his birth didn't guarantee he'd be here today.
"Walk a Mile in Our Shoes" Raises Money for Steps Center
We all know that getting enough exercise is an important factor in staying healthy, but on Saturday, the annual "Walk a Mile In Our Shoes" event also raised thousands of dollars for the Steps Center.