Minot – On Thursday the Minot Public School Board held a sparsely attended open meeting that included a public hearing for the 2023-2024 budget. A point that proved to be contentious was the lowering of the mil levy with an increase in taxes.
The meeting was held at the Central Campus Auditorium. On the agenda was the 2nd of three readings for the 2023-24 school budget and the 2023 Tax Levy. It was proposed that there would be, in total, a 2.5mil decrease but, with the increase in property values, there was still an estimated increase in property tax revenues of over $1.8 million.
Laura Dokken, MPS Business Manager, stated that approximately 80% of the budget would go to salaries for staff and administration.
The 2nd reading was approved without discussion and is now set for the final reading on October 9.
During the public hearing, two Minot residents voiced concerns to the school board focusing on the increase in taxes despite the decrease of the tax levy.
“Even though this board did not increase the mils my school taxes still increase because of the valuations,” said Larry Bellew, Minot resident. “In the last 7 years you as a school board, school district, have increased school taxes by 49%.”
Bellew stated that he and his wife are retired and living on a fixed income. Based off his calculations, he figured inflation and property taxes are costing him around $10,000 a year. He mentioned that the state of North Dakota increased per pupil payments by 4% over the next two years which he figured to be a $2.8 million increase for MPS this year. Based off those figures, Bellew encouraged the school board to not increase school taxes this year.
Minot Resident Mike Blessum would express frustration over the lack of discussion or questions concerning the budget.
“We have gone through two readings where a board of five elected officials have no questions on a $122 million budget. Zero.”
He would also point out that the school budget was not balanced but instead faced a $2.5 million deficit.
“The budget shows a deficit of 2.5 million and that is actually better than last year,” Blessum stated. “Not one question about that.”
The final reading of the 2023-24 budget will take place on October 9 and is open to the public.