VERONA — At $162.8 million, a referendum here to build a high school, convert the existing high school to a middle school and complete several other projects is one of the largest in state history.
Yet, if the April 4 ballot measure passes, the tax bite on the average homeowner will be smaller than other recently approved referendums.
That’s because $140 million of the construction costs could be absorbed by a tsunami of new money that flowed into the district this year after Epic Systems Corp. was fully entered on the city’s tax rolls.
Just a note… there’s an additional referendum that gets it up to $182 million.
The circumstances are pretty cool for Verona. They had a TIF that helped with the funding of Epic’s headquarters. Epic is a massive growing company that does EMR software. As Epic has grown, it has also brought in a lot of growth to Verona. It’s all upside. And now the TIF is expiring, thus allowing the property taxes from Epic to flow into the local tax base instead of paying off the TIF. This is exactly how TIFs are supposed to work.
Here are the tax implications:
To get a sense of the opportunity Verona faces, consider this: If the district does nothing, the school tax rate would drop from $11.98 per $1,000 of valuation to $9.45, saving the owner of a $250,000 home $527 a year.
But by tapping the Epic money to complete what district officials say is a much-needed expansion, the school tax rate would rise by 42 cents, costing the owner of a $250,000 home an additional $105 a year.
The Verona area is booming, too. Since 1989, the Verona School District has seen its enrollment more than double to 5,111 students. In that time, the district has built three elementary schools and two middle schools, but more students are on the way, according to district projections, with 4,400 housing units expected to be added by 2030.
Given the growth in the city, a lot of spending on growing the school district’s facilities is certainly justified. But it sure does seem like they are on a spending spree over and above what is necessary. We’re talking about a swing of $632 per year for a $250,000 home. That’s some real money.
So the TIF worked and brought in a large business that helps take some of the tax burden off of homeowners, so… the homeowners get to pay even more? Isn’t this supposed to work to lower the homeowners’ property taxes?
Time and time again – no matter what Wisconsinites do – it always seems to result in paying more in taxes.