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Osakis School Board approves 16.05% levy increase

District business manager Justin Dahlheimer explained that the increase is based on the local optional revenue, which was set at $575 per student but will now go up to $724 after Monday's action.

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OSAKIS – The Osakis School Board approved the district's property tax levy at the truth in taxation hearing on Monday, Dec. 12.

The levy was set at $2,090,198, an increase of 16.05%. Last year's levy was set at $1,801,079.

District business manager Justin Dahlheimer explained that the increase is based on the local optional revenue, which was set at $575 per student but will now go up to $724 after Monday's action.

Dahlheimer said the Osakis district was one of eight districts in the state that was not already at the $724 level.

"Really, the bulk of what we're raising is optional local levy source, and that is made up (of) that per-pupil formula, going from $575 per to $724," he said.

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Justin Dahlheimer

When the district is not at the $724 level, it loses 30 cents on the dollar from the state, funds from which make up 89% of the district's general fund each year, Dahlheimer said.

"It's a nominal increase if you didn't have huge swings in your property value, which we have no control over at the district level," he said.

Some property owners could see an increase of up to about $30, Dahlheimer said.

Comparatively speaking, while the per-pupil formula is in the amount of $724, the district receives $10,500 from the state per pupil, Dahlheimer said.

"We're asking taxpayers for levy before we set a budget for 2023-2024," Dahlheimer said. "There are items that we have to consider at these types of meetings when we set our levy that we need flexibility because, as you can see, we're going through strategic facilities planning, which is an unknown of how much that's going to cost the district in terms of improvements that we need to do to our facility. We have ways of accommodating that with our levy."

The big driver is salaries, which make up 75% of the district's budget, and enrollment.

"We estimate conservatively, because we have 37% open enrollment in our district, which means we're bringing in non-resident students, which make up a big chunk of our budget. So we have to be somewhat conservative," Dahlheimer said.

Local revenue is essentially targeted at maximizing non-local revenue, he said.

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"We're trying to use our taxpayers' dollars to leverage them to bring more aid into our district," Dahlheimer said. "The more successfully we can do that, the lower future taxes can be."

Travis Gulbrandson covers several beats, including Osakis School Board and Osakis City Council, along with the Brandon-Evansville School Board. His focus will also be on crime and court news.
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