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District anticipates $900K deficit after levy increase

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After a 10 percent decrease last year, the Lake Superior School District board members approved an eight percent levy increase for 2014.

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On Dec. 12, the board voted unanimously to adopt the $4.2 million levy budget for 2014, up from $3.9 million this year but down from two years ago, when the levy was at $4.3 million. The levy accounts for about 20 percent of the district’s revenue.

A small part of the increase will come from a board-approved $300 per pupil operating levy. The levy previously needed voter approval, but this year the state legislature granted districts the right impose the increases without a public vote.

The eight percent bump could increase district residents’ share of property taxes on a $100,000 home by $29.99. That doesn’t include county, township or city increases.

According to the district’s truth in taxation documents presented at last week’s meeting, the majority of the levy dollars will be spent to pay down the district’s debt, much of which was incurred during the construction of the new Two Harbors High School on Highway 2. The new school was completed in 2005. Another significant portion will be reserved for benefits for current and future retirees.

The district received increased funding from the state this year and a $1.5 million grant from the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board, money that is reserved for capital improvements.

With $19.4 million in revenues, the district plans to spend $20.3 million. They are operating on a $900,000 deficit.

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