Voters say yes to school budget that has slight cut in tax rate

By 
JOE POIRIER
Ozaukee Press Staff

The Grafton School Board adopted a preliminary levy with a slight decrease in the tax rate to support a $24.4 milllion budget that was unanimously approved by electors at the annual meeting Monday.

In a presentation at the meeting, Business Services Director Topher Adams said the preliminary levy included a 36-cent decrease in the mill rate, from $10.57 per $1,000 of property valuation last year to $10.21 per $1,000 for the 2019-20 year.

Adams said the district’s levy authority would be $16.2 million for the current school year. That means the owner of a $200,000 home of equalized value will pay $2,042 in school taxes, down from $2,114.

Each year, school districts calculate their revenue limit based on three-year averages of student enrollment. Within the revenue limit, the district receives state aid based on student enrollment, spending per student and property values in the district.

Adams said the district expects a 19-student drop in its average enrollment over three years, with the current state budget providing a $175 increase per student.

“Based on those two factors and other minor adjustments, our 2019-20 revenue limit is expected to decrease $190,658 when compared to 2018-19,” Adams said. 

The projected operating budget for the 2019-20 school year is $24,475,137. Adams said the district expects to collect $16.21 million in taxes.   

The district’s referendum debt for its $39.9 million school facilities project is levied separately. A levy to pay that debt is projected at $2.53 million. 

Adams said the the mill rate decrease is expected to be offset by a 5.2% increase in equalized property values in  the district, which will also offset a decrease in state aid.

This year’s state aid numbers will be finalized in October. Adams said a July estimate shows the district’s state aid decreasing by $929,240 from last year’s certified amount, but the district is expecting a $738,582 increase in its levying authority compared to last year.

Adams said the proposed budget is balanced with no deficit. As the new school year begins, the district has budgeted for new hires, benefit options and other factors.

The spending package also includes an increase in per-pupil aid, which is an amount the state gives the district for each student.

The final budget and levy certification will be approved at the board’s Oct. 28 meeting.

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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