WORTHINGTON — The Independent School District 518 Board of Education on Tuesday unanimously approved its not-to-exceed levy, which is anticipated to be an approximately 6.8% increase over that of last year.

However, due to the board opting to reduce its levy by $500,000 from its maximum authority last year, there’s potential that the difference between last year’s levy and this year’s could show as high as 15%, Superintendent John Landgaard told board members.

The percentage increases translate to an additional $452,300 or $952,300, respectively.

Tuesday’s action was routine for this phase of the budgeting cycle. Reductions from its maximum authority are possible between now and when the final levy must be set in December.

A truth in taxation hearing is scheduled for 6 p.m. Dec. 17 in the Worthington High School Media Center.

In other school board business, the board voted 5-2 to accept Duininck Inc.’s $335,816 bid to perform preliminary dirt work of the triangular-shaped parking lot between the tennis courts and baseball field near Worthington Middle School.. Duininck provided the only bid on the district's second call for bids. The board rejected bids last June after they came in more than two times over budget.

Landgaard reported that the second phase of the project, which will be completing the hard surface, is estimated to cost $250,000 and bring the project total to just less than $600,000. The second-phase is expected to be bid out at a later date. The district will utilize Long Term Facilities Maintenance dollars to complete the project.

Board members Mike Harberts and Adam Blume both voted against the action, noting that it continues to be beyond the $400,000 the board initially budgeted for the project.

“I think that money could be spent elsewhere,” Blume said after Tuesday’s board meeting about his continued stance against the project.

Harberts added that the district has bids going out for other projects on the horizon.

“I think we need to pay attention to those,” he said.

Last spring’s wet conditions created a safety hazard in the parking lot and multiple cars got stuck, Landgaard reported.

“It’s been going on for a couple years,” said board member Joel Lorenz. “It needs to be corrected.”

In other school board business, the board:

  • Unanimously approved a motion to remove approximately $28,000 from the district’s lease levy that is currently funding a portion of shared building space at the Southwest West Central Service Cooperative for special education services. The agenda item was brought before the board because the SWWC Service Cooperative was automatically placing that expense on the district’s lease levy. The special education services will still be contracted through the SWWC Service Cooperative, but it will be funded from another account.

  • Unanimously approved allowing the district to submit a request for proposal (RFP) document to operate the city’s future field house/activities center.

  • Approved a tax abatement request by Lorenz for a new home to be built in the 1900 block of Woodland Court in Worthington. Lorenz abstained from voting due to his conflict of interest.

  • Unanimously approved a tax abatement request made by Dan Wagner for a new home to be built in the 1600 block of Okabena Street in Worthington.