The tax rate in the Holmen School District will be going down, but not by as much as previously estimated.

The school board voted to approve a $10.56 mill rate at Monday’s meeting, or $1,056 in tax per $100,000 in property value. This is more than the proposed $9.70 tax rate presented last month at the budget hearing, but lower than last year’s rate of $11.20.

The big reason for the higher rate is the district budgeting nearly $1.3 million more for serving debt compared to early budget proposals. The district has been in the habit of levying additional dollars to prepay future obligations in order to keep tax rates level year after year.

Associate district administrator Jay Clark said keeping tax relatively level has been a board policy for the district and is part of avoiding tax hikes when going to a referendum. Levied dollars going into the debt service fund balance can only be used on future debt obligations according to state law.

“Rather than dropping that tax rate all at once, we’ve decided to do it more gradually,” Clark said. “That fits in with the board’s fiscal management policies.”

The $10.56 tax rate is a more than 6 percent decrease from last year. The total tax levy at $17.26 million is the same as the 2016-17 budget, but property owners may or may not see a decrease on their tax bill depending on the amount of new construction in the district and how a property’s value has changed from last year compared to the new tax rate.

In other business:

District Administrator Kristin Mueller recognized the Cheezland Uke Band for donating five new ukuleles to Viking Elementary.

Enrollment numbers for the 2017-18 school year were presented. Holmen saw a slight bump in enrollment this year at 3,939 students, up 45 from the year before.

Open enrollment numbers continue to rise as more students both enter and left Holmen. More students leave the district than enrolled in with a net loss of 238 students this year compared to a loss of 187 in 2016.

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Nathan Hansen has been the Education Reporter for the Tribune since 2014. Prior to that, he covered education, agriculture and business topics for the Winona Daily News. He is always on the lookout for news tips and can be contacted at 608-791-8234.

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