School Budget includes 5.3% tax-rate cut

Grafton residents approve spending package that reflects increase in state aid, property value
By 
JOE POIRIER
Ozaukee Press Staff

Grafton School District residents on Monday approved the 2018-19 budget that promises to send the tax rate plunging due to an increase in state aid and a spike in property value.

During the district’s annual meeting, Director of Business Services Topher Adams said the budget calls for 5.32% tax rate decrease from last year.   

The total tax levy is expected to remain flat at $18.6 million and requires a tax rate of $10.67 per $1,000 of property value.

That means the owner of a $200,000 home would pay about $120 less in school taxes this year.

That nearly wipes out last year’s 66-cent increase that in large part reflected the approval of a $39.9 million referendum for facility improvements.

Adams noted that the budget will not be finalized until the tax levy is certified next month.

“It will change when we get into October and we get actual numbers from the state,” he said.

Adams said the drop in the mill rate is a result of a static levy and an increase in equalized property values.

    
He also said the district will realize a yearly savings of $250,000 after it consolidated from three to two elementary schools.

While the district’s equalized property value, which outpaced the state average, won’t negatively affect the state aid this year, it could have repercussions in the future.

Equalized aid is calculated according to a formula based essentially on property value per student and is designed to provide more state assistance to poorer districts under the state formula.

While property values in the district have increased, enrollment has declined. That makes Grafton a wealthy district under the state formula and further shifts the burden of paying for local education from the state to local taxpayers.

On average in Wisconsin school districts, state aid accounts for 48% of the revenue allowed under the state revenue limit, while local taxes make up 52%, Adams said. In Grafton, state aid is estimated to account for 27% of the district’s revenue while local taxes make up 73% this school year.

Adams said there will be a $200 increase in per-pupil state aid, which isn’t part of the revenue limit. That will amount to $1.3 million in additional state aid for the district.

The 2018-19 budget will be finalized at the Oct. 22 School Board meeting.

 

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