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W-DC School Board: Large levy increase, referendum are highlights of finalized budget

A two-story wood-frame home on the corner of Dayton Avenue and Second Street SW in Wadena was purchased by District 2155 as a result of the Nov. 7 building bond vote. The district will be selling the home so it can be removed as part of a redesign of the Wadena-Deer Creek Elementary School's bus drop-off area. Brian Hansel/Pioneer Journal

The Wadena-Deer Creek Public School Board approved the 2018 budget and levy for the district during the annual Truth-in-Taxation meeting Monday night.

The full board approved a levy that is a 45.94-percent increase over last year for a total levy of $1,947,113. The total operating expenditures for 2018 are expected to be $13,629,251 and revenues of $13,770,248.

District voters approved two referendum questions Nov. 7, which allowed for a 154-percent increase to the operating levy from the prior year, a total increase of $280,097 for a total of $461,499 approved from the voter referendum.

The first ballot question for W-DC dealt with increasing the per-pupil operating levy of $513.29 to $863.29. The second question dealt with an additional $5.3 million in taxpayer money the district said it needed to improve health and safety by upgrades to the W-DC Elementary School and improvements to the adjoining Wadena Memorial Auditorium.

Business manager Brian Jacobson went over the budget for the board and public. He noted that the major changes to the budget were obviously due to the referendum passing. While the district was looking at major costs with the elementary and auditorium projects, "After the elementary is fixed up, we should be good for another 20-25 years," Jacobson said.

Also outlined as part of the budget:

• The district community service levy decreased by $14,117 from the prior year, a 19 percent decrease from the prior year.

• New for 2018 is the Ag2School program, which is a new law that will reduce 2018 property taxes by $118.45 per $500,000 value of agriculture and private managed forests, for an estimated $55,641 of total tax relief for farmers in the district.

The board also:

• Approved a resolution establishing the Memorial Auditorium as a combined polling place for school district elections not held on the day of a statewide election.

• Approved a resolution providing for the sale of general obligation school building bonds. The resolution outlined that the district deemed it necessary to issue building bonds in an amount not to exceed $5,305,000. The district retained Ehler & Associates Inc. as its independent municipal advisor for the bonds.

• Approved a resolution relating to the financing of the referendum projects. These funds help pay for expenses incurred prior to the actual date of issuance. Funds are expected to be issued by Feb. 8. The district is already incurring costs in planning the project.

• Approved a resolution naming TD Ameritrade as a depository/brokerage for the district concerning the referendum building bond proceeds and appointing Ehlers Investment Partners as the district investment manager.

Other board action included:

• Accepted the resignation of Scott Rude. Rude served as a bus driver in the district for 14 years. Rude will continue working full time for Merickel Lumber.

Bottemiller home

The board accepted a proposal by the Gores Company to market the former Bottemiller home the district now owns on the corner of Dayton Avenue and Second Street SW, which is to be moved off the property. The proposal was to sell the building by closed bids to the highest bidder, possibly in May. The Gores Company would receive 6 percent of the sale price as a seller's fee. The two-story house, purchased from Don Bottemiller for $110,000, will be moved from its present location as part of a plan to change the present bus drop-off area for elementary students. The district has long owned a ranch-style home on the corner of Dayton Avenue and Third Street SW, which is scheduled for removal.

Westrum hoped to have the home sell quickly in order to give the buyer enough time to remove the building so construction of the drop-off area can begin.

Someone has already called with interest in the home, Westrum said.

The home will be maintained and heated to preserve the structure, according to Westrum.

INFO BOX

Certified levy changes

Year Amount % increase (decrease)

2008 $1,202,032 (1.05)

2009 $1,737,677 44.56

2010 $1,533,993 (11.72)

2011 $1,581,806 3.12

2012 $1,468,173 (7.18)

2013 $1,391,889 (5.2)

2014 $1,215,172 (12.7)

2015 $1,292,330 6.35

2016 $1,334,220 3.24

2017 $1,947,113 45.94

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