The Waunakee Board of Education adopted the school district’s 2019-20 budget Monday night. It has come at a cost to taxpayers throughout the district.
The tax levy for 2019-20 was increased to $33,583,120.
The final dollar amount would be $2 million greater than that approved at the annual meeting. Business Manager Steve Summers said the increase is due to necessary budget modifications.
“At the annual meeting,” Summers stated, “a tax levy resolution in the amount of $31,541,225 was approved by the community...These figures were based on a budget approved by the School Board in August. Since the August budget approval, budget adjustments have occurred.”
Summers said the district will be receiving less equalization aid than anticipated.
“This amount is equal to $20,708,730 or $29,878 lower than projected,” Summers stated. “This figure is the actual equalization aid amount the district will receive this fiscal year.”
According to the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) website, property values were to blame.
“The Equalization Aid formula distributes financial assistance to school districts,” it states. “Districts with low per-pupil property valuations receive a larger share of their costs reimbursed through the equalization formula than districts with high per-pupil property valuations.”
Waunakee Community School District’s tax base has increased by $300,653,863. Summers said that is approximately $217 million more than the district had predicted in August.
He said much of the growth has come from the Community of Bishops Bay.
“That entire development is within our school-district boundary,” Summers said. “So Middleton is becoming a larger and larger share of our district. If you look at the apartment complexes along the highway, you will see there are more of them. And they’re adding a lot of value.”
Middleton’s equalized value in the district has now risen to $114,782,074.
Thanks to such development, the tax base has grown by 10.8 percent from the ’18-19 fiscal year – meaning the reduction in state aid will be offset by newly added property value.
Vice President Dave Boetcher said that’s good news for existing taxpayers.
“We’re not getting a tax increase on anyone who has existing property,” Boetcher said. “The only increase the school district sees is the exact growth increase, which means the new properties provide that increase.”
The board ultimately approved a tax rate of $10.86 per $1,000 of equalized value – the same rate residents saw in the 2018-2019 fiscal year.
Summers said it will result in nearly $1 million in added tax revenue for the district.
He said the extra revenue will be used to pay off the district’s debt at a faster rate, which will reduce the total amount interest paid on loans – thereby reducing future expenditures.
“When you prepay debt,” Summers said, “it results in the interest costs being reduced. In effect, it lowers the cost to the community and the taxpayers over that period of time for the debt-service schedule.”
The business manager said individual taxes will vary from one home to the next.
“The impact of a school-board-approved property-tax-levy increase cannot be calculated by the school district for an individual property,” Summers said. “Depending on the variables, an individual taxpayer may see differences occurring.”