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Resident tells Grand Forks Schools to keep mill levy increase

At least one Grand Forks resident supports a proposed mill levy increase for his school district.

C.T. Marhula was the lone speaker from the public Monday during a Grand Forks Public School Board hearing, which was held to seek input on a proposal to increase the 2018-19 budget by three mills. The increase would generate $700,000 a year for emergency spending.

Without the increase, the budget still is expected to go up roughly half a mill to 98 mills. With the increase, the total levy count for next year would be 101 mills.

The district proposed the increase to help offset expected deficits in upcoming years, but a committee recommended shelving the proposal until after next year's legislative session.

Marhula encouraged the board to keep the increase, noting it doesn't have options like the city does to bring in revenues from sources like utilities.

"Legislators may support increased K-12 funding," he said. "Given the environment in Bismarck, does anyone here think we can really rely on that?"

Marhula noted cuts to higher education in recent years that have resulted in layoffs and sports programs being eliminated. He warned the board to "hope for the best, prepare for the worst and don't end up like UND."

"Things are tough out there," he said. "Stay ahead of the game."

The board does not have to make a decision on the mill increase until Oct. 8. If a resident had a home with a market value of $300,000, they would see an increase on their annual tax bill of $49.14, or almost 3.75 percent from the 2017-18 school year if the mill increase is approved, according to calculations from the district.

The increase would appear on 2019 tax statements.

April Baumgarten

April Baumgarten joined the Grand Forks Herald May 19, 2015, and covers crime and education. She grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, where her family raises registered Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at Jamestown (N.D.) College, now known as University of Jamestown. During her time at the college, she worked as a reporter and editor-in-chief for the university's newspaper, The Collegian. Baumgarten previously worked for The Dickinson Press as a city government and energy reporter in 2011 before becoming the editor of the Hazen Star and Center Republican. She then returned to The Press as a news editor, where she helped lead an award-winning newsroom in recording the historical oil boom.

Have a story idea? Contact Baumgarten at 701-780-1248.

(701) 780-1248