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West Fargo schools to increase mill levy

The West Fargo school board will increase its mill levy by 4.86 percent, which will help account for the more than 450 new students expected to attend West Fargo schools in the 2014-15 school year.

But, unless a taxpayer’s property values were raised in the last year, residents of the school district will not see a rise in property taxes.

That is because the taxable value of homes in the school district went up from 204.1 million in 2013 to

$226 million in 2014 and an additional $13 million in new homes was added to the district’s taxable area.

The mill levy can then increase but the higher rate is absorbed by the higher value of property in the city.

West Fargo school district taxpayers will pay $639.90 in school taxes annually on a $100,000 home, the same amount as in the 2013-2014 school year, Business Manager Mark Lemer said.

The school board unanimously approved its preliminary budget on Monday.

Out of the district’s roughly b$100 million budget, it will spend about 72.8 million on staffing costs which includes an increase of $6.6 million from last year to pay the salaries of teachers and staff at the new Independence Elementary and additional classes that will be held at Sheyenne High School.

Earlier this year, the district hired 75 new staff members, including 46 full-time teachers to staff the new schools and booming student population.

Lemer expects 467 additional students in the 2014-2015 school year and that West Fargo will again qualify for a rapid increase grant from the state of about $656,700.

The grant is based on last year’s enrollment, which increased by 488 new students.

The district will have a better idea of how many students will be enrolled after registration began this week.

The first day of school will be Aug. 25.

Although the district is not raising taxes, because there will be a change in the mill levy, state law requires that a public hearing be held. The board must pass its final budget in October. A public hearing on the mill levy increase is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Aug. 25.

“The meeting will be to gather public input,” Lemer said Monday.

Wendy Reuer

Wendy reports for The Forum and West Fargo Pioneer, where she is also assistant editor. A University of Minnesota Morris graduate from North Dakota, Wendy started her career in television news and entertainment in Minnesota and and at CBS Television City, Calif. before working at newspapers in Minnesota and North Dakota. 

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