In accordance with state law, the Fillmore Central School District held its Truth in Taxation meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 18, prior to the regular board meeting. Information presented at the meeting educated the board and visitors on the district's proposed property tax levy and budget for 2014. Superintendent Richard Keith presented the information and answered questions.

Keith reminded those in attendance that revenue formulas are set by the state, except for voter-approved referendums. Funding consists of a mix of local levy dollars and state aid. He also stated increases in local taxes don't necessarily equate to increases in district revenue.

He pointed out the different funds the district has and explained their purposes. Overall, the district is expecting to see a 4.84 percent decrease in budgeted revenue compared to the 2012-2013 actual budget, or roughly $367,000. Sixty-two percent of the revenue will come from the state and 19 percent from local property taxes.

Expenditures are expected to increase 11.11 percent or by roughly $800,000. Keith explained the biggest factors for those changes were in code compliance standards for health and safety. These standards required the school to install new fire alarm systems in the Harmony and Preston buildings, which cost roughly $200,000. The school also installed an exhaust air exchange system in the school shop area in order to improve air quality.

Keith said the school did not have much costs in health and safety last year because projects got put off. "Everyone was happy when costs went down, but now we're paying for it," said Keith. Costs are expected to go back to normal after this year.

Keith provided a breakdown of how general fund dollars are spent. There is expected to be just over $1.1 million in the district's general fund in 2014. Roughly 48.6 percent is spent on regular instruction, with special education instruction and buildings/equipment being the next top two areas of expense.

In discussing 2014 school taxes, Keith noted half of all tax dollars go into the general fund. About 45 percent is spent on debt service and five percent goes toward community education programs.

There is a $414,000 expected increase in the general fund levy from 2012-2013. Overall, the district will see a 24.32 percent increase in its levy, or $356,285.

A visitor to the public hearing asked Keith why, on their property tax statements, the section labeled "other local levies" showed a 97 percent increase. Keith said it was an allocation percentage reflecting the increase in health and safety costs, but that the overall levy was increasing 24 percent.

The board approved the 2014 tax levy to be set at $1,821,278.73.

Principal, dean of student reports

Both Dean of Students Chris Mensink and Principal Heath Olstad expressed congratulations to the Fillmore Central Music Department, staff and students for "excellent concerts" this year. Due to a packed gymnasium for the K-6 concert, Mensink said seating would be reconfigured for the following year.

Mensink said kindergartners through eighth graders recently had presentations on bully prevention given by the CLIMB Theatre company out of Inver Grove Heights. Three performances were given to three separate groups of students.

Mensink thanked the district residents for the monetary and food donations coming in to the school for the Fillmore County Food Shelf.

In his athletic director report, Mensink said the Rochester Amateur Sports Commission had nominated the Fillmore Central volleyball team as team of the year and Denise Case as coach of the year for the Ninth Annual Rochester Area Sports Banquet scheduled to be held on Jan. 27. He noted the school had been honored previously when Mitch Ristau won the 2012 Adaptive Athlete of the Year award. The board passed on their congratulations to the volleyball team for their recognition.

It was also announced the new Harmony gym floor, which is currently being installed, was on schedule to be ready for the Jan. 2 girls basketball home game. Wrestling would also be able to use the gym once again.

Mensink announced the athletic department had received $750 from AgStar to go toward the purchase of a new baseball fence.

The ExCEL award winners for Fillmore Central were named as Nick Mensink and Leah Scheevel.

Other business

The following small items were also discussed during last week's meeting.

• The board approved an amended Vision, Mission, and Belief Statements document with a couple changes. A new belief was added expressing that "maintaining the confidentiality of all student data is essential." Another language edit was adopted.

• A maternity leave request was approved for Marit Janssen, elementary school teacher.

• The school's credit card limit was raised from $5,000 to $20,000 to compensate for an increase in on-line purchasing.

• The board decided to hold both the next regular meeting and the annual reorganization meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 29.