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Proposed BEA levy set at max

By Staff | Sep 20, 2015

The Blue Earth Area School District property tax levy could be taking a significant hike next year.

At last Monday’s BEA School Board meeting, the board followed a recommendation from superintendent Evan Gough and voted to set the proposed 2016 levy at the maximum they are allowed to do.

Every September the board has to set a preliminary levy, and each December they vote on a final actual levy amount.

“I am asking you to not set the preliminary levy with a dollar amount, but just at the maximum amount that will be allowed in December,” Gough said. “The actual firm dollar amount will be determined after adjustments are made by the Department of Education.”

The preliminary budget information, however, does list a dollar amount at this time for the levy. It shows an increase of $287,000 from last year’s levy total, which would be a hike of 15.29 percent. “There are two major reasons we are looking at such a large increase,” Gough explained. “About $100,000 of the amount is due to an increase in debt service. Another $133,000 is due to the fact we can now levy more for long-term facility maintenance.”

Gough says the money is needed for necessary maintenance projects, such as windows and roofs.

The board said OK to the preliminary budget and levy, as well as voting to hold their annual Truth in Taxation hearing on Dec. 14. That is the time the public can come hear about the reasons for the tax levy and ask questions.

After the December hearing, the board will set the actual 2016 levy amount.

In another financial matter, the board took up the discussion of increasing the amount board members are compensated. It had been discussed at the last couple of meetings, as well.

“Board reimbursement rates have not been increased since 1999,” Gough said. “And BEA’s rates are among the lowest among area school districts.”

The superintendent recommended raising the half day reimbursement rate from $50 to $75, and the full day from $100 to $150. He also recommended increasing the compensation for the board chair and clerk from $300 per year to $600 and to do away with the $300 compensation for the treasurer.

“The treasurer had more duties in the past, and those have changed,” Gough said. “There really is no reason for that compensation any longer.”

After some discussion, the board agreed with all the recommendations except for one the half day reimbursement rate.

“I think the $50 for a half day, or a meeting, is just fine,” board member Jesse Haugh said. “Most meetings are only a couple hours long.”

The board voted to increase the full day rate to $150 and the board chair and clerk pay to $600 per year.

On a second motion, the board decided to make the increase effective on Jan. 1, 2016.

After hearing from BEA activities director Rob Norman, the board also voted to increase the compensation paid to workers at sports and other events.

Most of the pay was increased to $30 per event, for things such as ticket seller/takers, concessions, line judges, etc.

In other business on Monday, the board also took care of some personnel matters.

The approved two staff contracts, one with Sharon Van Kley as youth development coordinator, and another with Paul Nienaber as high school social studies teacher.

They also approved five support staff contracts, including Susan Salisbury and Colleen Cleppe as cook’s helpers and Andrea Nienaber, Joan Schewe and Molly Gray as paraprofessionals.

They also approved accepting the resignations of Shana Gregory- high school paraprofessional and Shari Walker-Little Giants.