GFW board OKs 2.9% levy decrease

Coming out of Statutory Operating Debt

GIBBON — The Gibbon Fairfax Winthrop (GFW) School Board unanimously set the payable 2022 tax levy at $2,520,082.77 Monday.

Action came on a motion by board member Mike Kuehn, seconded by Drew Schmidt. The levy is 2.9% ($74,289) less than the payable 2021 levy.

The levy is a $26 school tax reduction on a $100,000 home, $40 reduction on a $150,000 home, and $53 reduction on a $200,000 home.

At a Truth in Taxation presentation, PMA Securities Public Finance Director Michael Hart said the levy is just one piece of the school district’s budget and that most district funding comes from the State of Minnesota.

“Property values rose, which helped your tax rates go down,” said Hart. “The school district borrowed $1.3 million in Fiscal Year 2019, $2 million in FY 2020 and $2.5 million in FY 2021, but there is no need to borrow money at this time. That’s a really big accomplishment.”

Hart said the school district is projected to have a Fiscal Year 2022 surplus.

“There are a lot of financial opportunities for you. You’re debt pays off soon,” Hart said. “The Ag2School Tax Credit (passed by the Minnesota Legislature to reduce farm taxes owed for school bond payments) is a really powerful tool for you. This is a shift of metro money to rural school districts that has bi-partisan support. It helped many districts accomplish things they had to do.”

Hart said the district’s current outstanding bonds will be paid off at the end of FY 2022 and 2024.

“The district has made significant progress on finance goals in its strategic plan,” said Hart. “Many opportunities are available to continue progress. Interest rates are very low.”

The board also:

• Received a 2020-2021 Financial Statement Audit from Blaine Abdo of Abdo, Eick, and Meyers. Average Daily Membership figures were 711 in 2017, 702 in 2018, 689 in 2019, 686 in 2020 and 674 in 2021. The district’s general fund balance at the end of FY 2021 was $10,889,239.

• Met in executive (closed) session to discuss the Superintendent Jeff Horton’s evaluation. Results of the meeting will be released at the January 2022 board meeting.

• Recognized board member Casey Prochniak who received a Minnesota School Board Association certificate for completing workshop training.

• Heard Supt. Jeff Horton mention the school district was one of two in Minnesota to receive a $233,000 Minnesota Department of Education grant he said can be used to bring communities together to create student opportunities such as extended learning and after school programs.

• School District Facility Manager Dave Sellner reported OSHA-required indoor air quality awareness safety training was completed. He said Alpha Wireless will update building radios which are being programmed.

In addition, he said the PAAPA Company repaired a couple of boiler issues in the Winthrop school and Dashir Management repaired a large crack in the Gibbon school west entryway steps.

• Elementary Principal Jennifer Thompson reported the continuous improvement team and coaches are planning literacy activities and read-a-thon fundraising event for “I Love to Read” month in February.

Thompson said more than 90% of families participated in conferences. A 3rd-4th grade children’s Theater field trip was postponed to Jan. 7, 2022 due to a winter storm.

She said the elementary staff is planning a holiday potluck and an after-school gathering.

• Accepted donations including $1,000 from Georgia Messner for band and choir, $5,000 from Central Region Cooperative for FFA, $1,735 from Prairie Lakes Art for art projects; $120 from the blackbaud/Ecoland Giving Fund; and $100 for art supplies from the Winthrop General Federation of Womens Clubs.

• Board member Drew Schmidt asked for agenda additions including planning work sessions and discussing school bus loading at the Winthrop School. Board Chairman Mike Kuehn said loading and unloading buses on the highway should be avoided. Schmidt suggested meeting with the district transportation director to find a solution.

A work session was planned for 5:30 p.m., Monday, Jan. 3, prior to the January board reorganization meeting.


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