Four months after rejecting a $12.5 million increase in spending for operations, residents in the West Allis-West Milwaukee School District will see their taxes rise anyway after the district’s requests for $15.8 million in state loans were approved Wednesday.
The state’s three-member Board of Commissioners of Public Lands voted 2-1 to approve the loans: $12.8 million to pay for energy efficiency improvements and an additional $3 million for capital projects.
The loans will nearly double the debt of the suburban Milwaukee County district, which has been struggling to regain its financial footing after blowing through $17.5 million in reserves in recent years before posting a $2.1 million deficit in 2016.
Andy Chromy, director of finance and operations for the district, defended the School Board’s decision to seek the loans after residents rejected extra spending in a referendum.
“We have 17 schools that are at least 46 years old and we are not able to replace all of them,” Chromy said. “So, this is an avenue to help us at least try to keep the schools we have in the best condition we can.”
To Andy Chromy… that may be true, but you already made that case to the voters and they said “no.” It’s unconscionable to just ram a tax increase through a loophole after the voters said no.
I would also add that there are many, many buildings still in very good use that are older than 46 years old (*cough* capitol building; Lambeau Field; hundreds of churches; etc. *cough*). The only reason they would need to be replaced is with gross mismanagement of their upkeep. Obviously, the voters of that district came to the same conclusion.