Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - The Duluth School Board has set its 2014 tax levy and property owners in the district can expect to pay a considerable amount more than in 2013.
The approved tax levy at just over $32 million for the 2014 school levy is the highest in history going back to 1997.
On Tuesday, the board approved a total levy increase of 11.9 percent with $3.8 million for debt service.
In recent years, the debt service fund has been used to pay off expenses from unsold vacant properties that were closed through the Long Range Facilities (Red) Plan, including Central High School and Morgan Park. But now the fund is too low to support those debt payments.
Also increasing in 2014, is the general fund levy, which includes a referendum approved by voters in November.
This levy will bring in an additional $1.9 million dollars which will address class sizes and update the curriculum.
District officials say next year they plan to focus on selling vacant buildings to help reduce the debt service levy.
"The debt service portion of our levy provides for the payment on the bonds that we use to borrow money for the long range facilities plan. In the past we've projected property sales to reduce that levy and we are no longer able to do that as the properties sales have not happened," said Bill Hanson with Duluth School District.
Beginning next year, property owners can expect to pay about $5.13 per month or $61 a year more for a home with an average value of $150,000.
If the district is able to sell vacant properties that would represent a direct reduction in the debt relief levy, ultimately bringing down costs to the district and subsequent taxpayers.