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Tax Funding Conflicts Continue With Grand Forks Public Schools - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Tax Funding Conflicts Continue With Grand Forks Public Schools

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Last year, the North Dakota Legislature voted to give a percentage of tax revenue back to residents. However, Grand Forks Public Schools only returned a percentage of that money, allocated to lower property taxes. This has some in the community upset.

“I think it should be returned to the taxpayers and I think the teachers should be rewarded,” says C.T. Marhula, a former board member and concerned citizen.

Marhula has a unique name for the Grand Forks Public Schools Board Members.

He calls them “the rubber stamp board”.

Marhula says if the current budget proposal is approved, some teachers may fall on hard times in the upcoming fiscal year.

“There will be teachers taking home less this year than last year,” he says. “And I think that’s wrong.”

The Finance Committee has been crunching the numbers for next year’s budget while at the same time trying to make the process more transparent to taxpayers. Still, Board Member Doug Carpenter says it’s a battle right now.

“I think we're just trying to balance conflicting interests: the needs of spending on the education and keeping taxes reasonable for the taxpayers of Grand Forks,” he explains.

Carpenter says last year’s ruling by the legislature was a surprise to the school district. He says Grand Forks Public Schools simply could not give back all the money. This year, he hopes more people are paying attention to the budget proceedings.

“So I think now what we're trying to do is get as much information out and let people know so we don't want those surprises anymore,” Carpenter says.

All of this comes to a head in the next few weeks as the Finance Committee makes its final recommendation to the Board. The Board then looks to finalize its budget by the end of September.

C.T. Marhula says he hopes the public shows up to the next few meetings to voice their opinions. He hopes people understand the importance of education.
 
"Education is the lifeblood of this nation, this community, this state. It’s the leg out of poverty, the path to success,” he explains. “And if we don't have the public supporting our public education, I'm afraid more and more funding will disappear."

The Grand Forks Public Schools Board is budgeting for a 20% increase in revenue over last year’s budget. The Finance Committee, at this point, is not looking to raise the mill levy. However, it is likely for taxpayers to see higher rates based on the increasing property values in Grand Forks.
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