At its June 10 meeting, the Waunakee school board approved the second draft of its 2019-2020 budget. If passed, the tax levy would increase 4.7 percent from the previous year.

Business Manager Steve Summers said such figures have not changed since May.

“Between the first draft of the budget and the second draft of the budget,” Summers said, “there’s not a lot of activity as far as differences.”

Property taxes would still generate approximately 45 percent of the school district’s revenue, with contributions toward salaries and benefits making up 79 percent of its expenditures. Also, student-enrollment numbers were the same as predicted in the initial version of the budget.

However, Summers said things could change in the coming months.

“At this point in the process,” Summers said, “we are working off estimates…The school budget obviously relies very heavily on whatever happens with the state budget (and) the amount of funding going into equalization aid and special-education aid.”

Numbers from the second draft were based on an estimated $19,775,731 in state equalization aid. If the state gives out any less, then the district would need to make up the difference elsewhere.

One option would be to increase the tax levy.

Summers said a hike is unlikely, though, considering the growth taking place throughout the village and other parts of the district. The broader tax base would mitigate any rate increase.

“When your community is growing like Waunakee is,” Summers said, “there are new properties that get taxed for the first time that help absorb – for the homes that are already here – a good percentage of the increase in the school tax.”

Recent events have helped the district get a better picture of what final figures may look like.

The Joint Finance Committee (JFC) finished preparing its version of the state budget last week, including its recommendations for K-12 school funding throughout Wisconsin.

The proposed increase in per-pupil categorical aid was $175 less than the district had anticipated.

“The Joint Finance Committee has proposed a school-district financing plan that differs from what we’ve included in the second draft of the budget,” Summers said. “Because the committee went that route, the property-tax impact is going to be different.”

Now that the JFC has made its recommendation, school board members have asked Summers to highlight the discrepancies between the second draft of their budget and the new state proposal.

Summers said he will present those differences on July 1, before making necessary adjustments.

“Even though this is the second draft,” Summers said, “we are a long way from setting the tax levy and approving the final version of this.”

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