Northern Ozaukee OKs budget with lower taxes and higher cash balance
The numbers were all going in the right direction in the 2016-17 budget approved Tuesday by the Northern Ozaukee School Board.
The property tax levy, unanimously adopted by the board, was $6,062,036 — a decrease of .66% from last year. The decrease continues a favorable trend, where last year’s levy dropped by 7.7%.
Business Manager Julie Wicker explained at a sparsely attended budget hearing that “the great news for taxpayers” is that the equalized tax rate for school purposes will drop to $10.30 per $1,000 of property valuation.
That rate represents a 42-cent decrease from the rate needed for the 2015-16 spending plan, a 4.1% drop.
Helping the improved levy picture was a $20 million increase in the district’s equalized valuation, as reported by the Wisconsin Department of Revenue.
The district’s total valuation is listed at just over $588 million, 3.5% higher than last year.
There was even more good news from Madison, with the report that the district will receive more than $3.2 million in state aid. That is roughly $200,000 more than it received last year, and $500,000 more than the 2014-15 school year.
Supt. Dave Karrels noted that even with the decreased tax rate, the district will be able to enhance its cash balance. The balance now stands at $765,659, some $100,000 more than was on hand in 2015.
“We have made significant progress in allocating money to the fund balance, which has been a board goal and puts us in a much better financial position,” Karrels said.
Having solid cash reserves improves the district’s credit rating when borrowing money, and makes it easier to cover cyclical cash flow shortfalls.
As far as numbers go, the only negative included in the budget report was that the overall enrollment dropped from 821 to 810. That number includes students enrolled in the “brick and mortar” schools and Wisconsin Virtual Learning, the district’s online charter program.