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Cloquet School Board passes tax levy

The Cloquet School Board voted Monday, Dec. 14, during a regular school board meeting to raise the school tax levy. The 4-2 vote, with board members Sandy Crowley and Rose Scheuer voting against, was enough to pass the increase, which is expected...

The Cloquet School Board voted Monday, Dec. 14, during a regular school board meeting to raise the school tax levy.

The 4-2 vote, with board members Sandy Crowley and Rose Scheuer voting against, was enough to pass the increase, which is expected to collect an extra nearly $1 million for the school district. It raises the total levy collection to $4 million, an increase of about 30 percent.

The increased levy will be used to cover approximately $379,000 paid to remove asbestos after it was discovered during a summer construction project. About $553,000 will be used for Other Post-Employment Benefits to pay for retiree insurance.

School District Business Manager Kim Josephson presented this information to an audience of about 12 community members during a Truth in Taxation hearing that took place during the regular board meeting.

"There are times that taxes don't necessarily mean more money for school districts," said Josephson.

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Community members in attendance were worried about rising taxes in such dismal economic times.

"A lot of people I talk to are not OK," said Clarence Badger, a retired Cloquet teacher. "They're having a heck of a time keeping their heads above water. An increase is going to take money out of their food [budget] or their medication."

Board member Duane Buytaert said he recognized that increases are hard to make, but added that making cuts is just as difficult.

"When it comes time to cut something, people show up and support it, so it's hard," he stated. "There are just as many people out there in favor of paying for this as there are for not paying for things."

The tax levy increase will take effect in 2010. Josephson couldn't say whether there would be more increases in the future.

"As far as any planned projects, there are none at this time," said Josephson, "but I can't say what things will be like in 20 years with the budget or with anything."

Badger encouraged board members and administrators to consider the bigger picture.

"Things are changing," he said. "The school board, the county, the state; they need to look at the whole picture, not just their picture."

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Later in the meeting, school board members voted unanimously to hire Ehlers Inc. for the refunding of 2002 bonds to reduce the interest rate. The service will cost approximately $18,000, but according to Josephson, it will benefit the district, and ultimately the taxpayers, by resulting in a reduction to the levy of some $36,000 to $41,000 per year.

Related Topics: EDUCATION
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