Tomorrow is the annual meeting at which the residents of the West Bend School District will vote to approve or deny the proposed property tax levy. It is only an advisory vote. The School Board will approve the final property tax levy and budget on October 26th.
The resolution under consideration tomorrow is to approve the property tax levy at $37,637,407. Last year’s levy was $36,564,034, so that’s an increase of $1,073,373 or 2.9%.
Enrollment is projected to be flat, so the justification for the tax increase is that state aid is expected to decrease. Remember that the school district is funded primarily from two sources – state aid and local property taxes. If spending stays the same and state aid decreases, then property taxes would have to increase to make up the difference.
Looking at the fund 10 spending, the district is planning to spend slightly less than last year. In a year of flat enrollment, that’s good. The school district plans to spend $67,112,889, which is $52,681 less than last year.
The district also expects to get $30,732,189 in state aid, which is $716,340 less than last year.
So, let’s do some math and see if the justification holds. The budget shows the state giving the district $716,340 less than last year. Subtract from that the spending decrease of $52,681 and we have total budget gap of $663,659. The property tax levy is budgeted to increase by $1,073,373. That means that the district wants to increase property taxes $409,714 on top of what it would take to make up the projected decrease in state aid.
The proposed increase in property taxes is not completely to make up the difference in state aid. Some of the increase will be used for debt service and capital projects too.
Unfortunately, due to another commitment, I’m not going to make it to the meeting tomorrow. If I were going to be there, I would vote for this property tax levy. The school board has decreased spending in a flat enrollment year and is setting money aside for capital projects, like the replacement of Jackson Elementary, instead of trying to do it via another referendum. There is plenty in this budget that I question and would do a bit differently, but in the aggregate, it is headed in the right direction.